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Opportunities for Media Agencies in GP Surgeries

04 Mar 2024
Frequent attenders visit their GP 5 times as often as other patients
70% are more likely to recall an ad in a contextually relevant environment
41% increase in spontaneous recall when adverts are placed in relevant environments.
By Hattie
How can media agencies leverage GP surgeries for targeted campaigns, enhancing healthcare communication and patient engagement?

Healthcare marketing has long been dominated by a ‘doctor knows best’ mentality. Patients visit their doctor to be told what to do and what to take with little consideration of how they can be involved in their own treatment.

However, a shift towards patient-centricity means the landscape for marketeers is evolving and a focus on delivering personalised experiences to patients is becoming increasingly important and in demand – opening up new opportunities for marketing within a health and wellness hotspot.

Understanding the GP Surgery Environment

You won’t be surprised to hear that GP surgeries play a significant role in shaping the behaviours and health outcomes of the UK public.

More recently, however, this environment has become a significantly important destination for patients seeking guidance and support on wellness and welfare issues too, and this can be attributed to;

  • The UK government broadening primary care’s role. Last year GPs were asked to advise patients on the importance of school attendance and regional schemes are being tested to show the impact on prescribing heating to patients with conditions that get worse in the cold.
  • Health is ubiquitous. With austerity driving a rise in frailty and mental wellness being linked to physical wellness – health is in everything we do and not just about the OTC medicines we take.

As a result, there are over 26 million appointments in primary care every month, mainly dominated by three audience groups coined as frequent attenders: parents with young children, those with chronic health conditions and those with poor mental health. ‘Frequent attenders’ now make up around 4 in every 10 consultations in primary care and visit their GP 5 times as often as other patients on a general practice list.

Types of Media Opportunities in GP Surgeries

Media agencies can explore several opportunities within GP surgeries to reach target audiences effectively, each with its own set of benefits but, when used together, make a powerhouse for an effective healthcare marketing campaign.

Digital Signage

Digital displays or screens in waiting areas can showcase health-related messages, educational videos, practice updates, and community health events. These displays are ideal for time-sensitive campaigns, particularly those centred around national weeks/months or reactive campaigns based on a newsworthy moment.

Interactive screens allow patients to engage with more than just onscreen content – such as appointment scheduling tools – and these further increase engagement opportunities and dwell time.

Printed Formats

Printed materials such as leaflets and magazines in waiting areas will get advertisers straight into the hands and homes of consumers who are actively seeking support, guidance and information on a range of health, wellness and welfare issues.

Unlike their digital counterparts, which lend themselves well to clear CTAs and short messaging, leaflets are ideal for complex information and imagery in one design, allowing for comprehensive storytelling capable of educating your target audience on multiple facets of your product or service.

With long dwell times as standard, printed materials in waiting areas can also provide patients with a little light relief whilst they wait, alongside learning about health-related topics or solutions.

Education Packs

Healthcare professionals rely on up-to-date information, research findings, and educational resources to stay informed about advancements in their field and improve patient care.

Curating and distributing packs aimed at specific groups of clinicians (i.e. GPs, midwifes, oncologists) can serve as a valuable educational tool by providing them with access to relevant clinical data, product information, treatment guidelines, and best practices, empowering them to make informed decisions and enhance their professional knowledge and skills.

Distributing tactile marketing materials directly has tremendous power to boost brand awareness and communicate the value of your product and/or service, so including samples in a pack is also something worth consideration.

Benefits of media campaigns in primary care

Media campaigns in a healthcare environment benefit from unique advantages not often experienced in more commonly used spaces such as transport or roadside – in our opinion, it’s contextual advertising at its best.

Targeted Audience Engagement

Advertising wastage poses a significant problem for advertisers and their incumbent media agencies as it leads to inefficient allocation of resources, reduced effectiveness of advertising campaigns, and a diminished return on investment.

Primary care advertising reduces this risk as there are clearly identifiable audiences present, most of which are there with purpose – namely finding a solution for or guidance on specific health and wellness issues.

Whilst 93% of the population are registered at the GP, 30-40% of all appointments are for roughly 7% of a practice’s patients, who visit up to 21 times a year.

In general, footfall in primary care is more likely to be made from patients who are female, older, have more social and psychiatric problems, take more drugs for mental illness, have more medically unexplained symptoms and suffer more long-term conditions such as diabetes, joint pain and cardiovascular disease.

If you want to read more about ‘frequent attenders’ then it’s worth you reading our insight piece.

From mindfulness apps to incontinence wear – many potential solutions and support tools cannot be provided by the NHS due to limited resources. This means those with multiple chronic health conditions or complex medical needs that require ongoing management and monitoring are more likely to require supplementary support from brands and organisations outside of the NHS.

Brand Visibility and Recall

Advertising in GP surgeries also helps Increase brand awareness and recall as patients are exposed to messages in a setting where they are known to be particuarly attentive and receptive.

In fact, 69% of consumers in the UK are more likely to recall an ad when it appears in a contextually relevant environment.

According to a study by Integral Ad Science and Neuro-Insight, there is a 41% increase in spontaneous recall and a 69% increase in prompted recall from audiences when adverts are placed in relevant environments.

Best practices for advertisers

For any marketeers considering our primary or secondary care OOH networks, here are some best practices to be mindful of:

  • Focus on patient experience: Materials need to enhance the overall patient experience by providing valuable information and support rather than pushing sales. Focus on them, not you.
  • Don’t treat your audience as a homogenous group: Gain a deep understanding of the audience demographics, preferences, and needs and tailor advertising messages accordingly. This might mean producing content in multiple languages, for instance.
  • Utilise multiple channels: Utilise a mix of media channels and formats to reach patients or HCPs effectively. This may include a combination of digital displays, posters and leaflets placed in waiting areas, consultation rooms, and high-traffic areas within the surgery.
  • Be aware of health literacy issues: Although we will help to get your message in a prominent position inside thousands of primary care sites, you need to ensure that messages are visible and easily understandable to maximise impact and recall among patients.
  • Provide actionable information: Make it easy for patients to engage with the advertised content and take the next step by including clear calls-to-action (CTAs) to prompt patients to take desired actions, such as requesting more information, visiting a website for additional resources or using a QR code for a discount.

By following these best practices, you can help your clients effectively leverage this trusted environment to engage and educate patients and/or support healthcare professionals while delivering measurable results for their clients.

Why are GP surgeries a better environment than broadcast?

Low ad wastage, a highly engaged audience and the power of contextual advertising are three reasons why advertising in this niche environment can pose a far better option for clients looking to activate an health or wellness OOH campaign.

Yes, broadcast media has its strengths (broader reach, potential for mass exposure etc.) but GP surgeries may also be more cost-effective for certain campaigns compared to broadcast media, especially for those targeting specific geographic areas or demographic groups.

Moreover, trust and credibility in this environment are unmatched. GP surgeries are the bedrock of UK society, one in which patients have established relationships with their doctors and nurses. Advertising here can enhance brand credibility and trust, as patients are more likely to perceive advertised products or services as endorsed by the healthcare professionals they trust.

You can’t get that at a bus stop now, can you?!

If you have a health or wellness brief on your desk and are interested in thinking outside the billboard box, drop us a line and we can show you what we have up our sleeves.