As providers and health organisations worldwide face an urgent need for digital health solutions that protect people from COVID-19 and improve overall wellbeing, the UK healthcare sector is taking a leading role. Venture capital (VC) investment in UK health tech has increased 9x since 2016, growing from just $420 million (£317 million) in 2016 to $3.8 billion (£2.87 billion) in 2021. That puts the UK healthcare technology market #3 in the world, with only the U.S. and China ahead.

Front and centre in UK medical technology is the Golden Triangle of London, Oxford, and Cambridge, sometimes called the Silicon Valley of the UK. Those three cities account for more than 65% of UK health tech investment and over 25% of the entire European digital health market, according to data from London & Partners and Dealroom.

One of the biggest drivers is telemedicine, which accounts for 40% of VC health tech investment in London alone. A study taken at the start of the pandemic showed that just 5% of respondents in the UK used telehealth services at the time, but 58% said they would consider using digital health services if available to help minimize the spread of COVID-19. Search engine data shows the continuing popularity of telehealth: At Conductor, we’ve seen search demand for “online doctor consultation” grow by 26% year-over-year (YoY).

Online doctor consultation search trends

Beyond telemedicine, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), genomics, the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), and smart cities bring the promise of changing healthcare for the better. 

To help your health tech solution stand out from the crowd, we analysed Conductor search data and uncovered the top 5 UK digital health trends for 2022. Read on to learn which trends make the list. You’ll also get keyword insights and other organic marketing tips that can help your digital health solutions increase their Google rankings.

Trend #1: Workplace wellbeing

Even before the pandemic, UK employers began offering wellness stipends, helping their employees improve their physical and mental well-being. According to Britain’s Healthiest Workplace survey from Vitality, 1 in 10 workers in the UK live with depression, 57% are stressed at work, 50% have financial concerns, and 42% don’t sleep well. 

Employees’ overall concerns about improving their health and well-being are reflected in the way they’re searching on Google. Search interest in the keyword “workplace wellbeing” achieved 1,600 Monthly Search Volume (MSV) over the last 12 months and peaked in September 2021.

Workplace wellbeing search interest

Using the Conductor platform, we learned that “mindfulness at work” (MSV 320) is an ideal keyword to target for health tech companies offering meditation solutions that include corporate packages. A look at two leading mindfulness apps—Headspace and Calm—shows the difference search engine optimisation can make. Headspace optimises for “mindfulness at work” and ranks fifth for the keyword, while Calm does not and ranks much further down as the 51st search result. A deeper dive showed us that Calm’s corporate meditation landing page ranks for just five keywords, while Headspace’s ranks for 30.

When it comes to virtual healthcare solutions for therapy and counseling, we reviewed Betterhelp’s business domain. While they rank for just one term, “Betterhelp” as a branded term has achieved an impressive MSV of 14.8K, a 50% increase YoY. This shows UK workers’ increasing interest in online therapy and a potential trend toward corporate virtual counseling packages.

Trend #2: Telemedicine and virtual healthcare

The rise in search demand for the keyword phrase “online doctor consultation,” which we mentioned earlier, shows that telemedicine and virtual healthcare continue to be on consumers’ minds. The NHS has encouraged the use of telemedicine as an alternative to attending a local GP practice or clinic in an effort to limit the number of face-to-face appointments and stop the spread of COVID-19 both initially and during surges caused by variants like Delta and Omicron.

As a result of telehealth’s emerging popularity, funding in virtual healthcare technology is reaching an all-time high. Telemedicine company Babylon Health recently secured $200 million (£151 million) in funding to fuel rapid growth capable of keeping up with surging telehealth demand. Babylon Health is also among the telemedicine companies showing strong YoY growth in branded search demand.

Telehealth companies search demand increase
While Lloyds Pharmacy leads in MSV for branded searches, their search volume remains steady. Babylon Health, Pushdoctor and ZAVA all experienced YoY increases. Searches for the keyword “online doctor” tell a different story, with Lloyds Pharmacy, Boots, Pushdoctor, and others outranking Babylon Health.

Clearly, telemedicine is a vertical with great competition, and one where SEO can help a company get ahead.
Conductor platform telehealth companies top 5 results

Another telemedicine trend we’re seeing emerge: The rise of AI-powered autonomous healthcare assistants. A new humanoid robot from Awakening Health uses advanced robotics and other technologies to recognize and respond to human emotions, speak several dialects, and mirror patients’ facial expressions. Companion robots like these are designed to help address the mental health and preventive care needs of elderly people in care facilities.

Trend #3: Genomics

No list of the top UK digital health trends for 2022 would be complete without genomics. The study of people’s genes is revolutionising healthcare by creating precision medicine that customises treatments to match a person’s genetic profile. Healthcare technology plays a leading role.

Conductor research shows Illumina ranking first for the keyword “genetic sequencing” (4.4K MSV), a scientific approach that helps determine the exact order of bases in a strand of a person’s DNA. Illumina’s website includes several content assets dedicated to how its medical technology helps laboratories identify SARS-CoV-2 virus mutations, and how they help to trace, track, and halt community spread of COVID-19.

Conductor platform genomics companies top 5 results

Another solution provider, Bluebird Bio, is considered the top company for gene therapy, a process that alters the genes in the body’s cells in ways that may stop the progression of certain health conditions. But our research shows that Bluebird Bio only ranks 36th in MSV for the keyword “gene therapy”, giving competitors ample opportunity to steal some market share with smart organic marketing approaches.

A similar storyline plays out in searches for gene editing, a process that lets scientists change an organism’s DNA. CRISPR Therapeutics is considered the leading gene-editing company, but they rank 18th—much lower than expectedfor the keyword “gene editing.”

Using Conductor’s free, advanced Google Chrome extension, we identified a few issues with CRISPR’s homepage that potentially erode its keyword rankings:

  • No meta description
  • Poor mobile page speed
  • Missing alt tags
  • Lack of an HTTPS URL
Conductor Google Chrome Extension

Trend #4: Fair Insurance and IoMT

Connected health tech devices like wearables help people track metrics such as heart rate and blood pressure. They also give insurers an accurate picture of a person’s overall health. For these reasons, wearables and connected devices that comprise the IoMT rank as the fourth top UK digital health trend for 2022.

Pandemic-related lockdowns led to a surge in at-home workouts, fuelling the sales of wearables. Today, 40% of UK consumers have access to a smartwatch or fitness band, up from 31% in 2020. Data show that the number of connected wearable devices in Western Europe has grown from 16.75 million in 2015 to an estimated 192 million in 2022.

Our review of search engine data illustrates this emerging trend. The Apple Watch tops the pack (673K MSV) of branded wearables searches, no doubt helped by a new feature on Series 6 and Series 7 watches that measures a person’s blood oxygen level. Garmin Watch (90.5K MSV) and Fitbit (450K) also perform exceptionally well.

Now, insurers are using data from wearables, shared with permission from consumers, to offer incentives to those they cover. For example, Vitality offers rewards to people who exercise more based on data provided by their fitness bands. These perks help motivate people to exercise regularly and help insurers create more accurate health plans.

The global adoption of 5G will help the IoMT market hit new heights, potentially reaching as high as $254 billion by 2026. So it’s no surprise that searches for IoMT grew by 24% YoY. And keyword competition for some of the most popular IoMT devices is intense.

Among the most popular IoMT-related keywords is “glucose monitoring” (2.9K MSV), which increased by 53% YoY. Leading the way are searches for Abbott’s Freestyle Libre 2, with an MSV of 22,200 and an astounding 1,068% YoY increase in search demand. The Freestyle Libre lets people with diabetes check their glucose levels accurately without a finger stick.

The following keywords also earned significant YoY growth and may help makers of continuous glucose monitors (GCMs) and other wearables rise to the top of Page 1 on Google:

Healthcare wearables search demand

Robotic surgery, a medical technology trend since the 90s, is also seeing renewed interest among searchers in the UK. Branded searches for the da Vinci robot (1.3K MSV) and da Vinci surgical system (320 MSV, + 22%YoY) are top performers.

Trend #5: Healthcare cybersecurity

Ever since the WannaCry ransomware attack brought the NHS to a standstill for several days in 2017, healthcare organisations have faced renewed pressure to implement the highest levels of cybersecurity. 

We’re seeing this UK healthcare trend play out on search engines. Search demand for the keyword “healthcare cybersecurity” increased from 150 to 520 from December 2017 through November 2021. 

Healthcare cybersecurity search demand

To learn more about which brands people look for the most when seeking healthcare cybersecurity solutions, we took a deep dive into organic marketing results using Conductor Explorer

Our research showed that Kaspersky currently ranks second for the keyword “healthcare cybersecurity,” with Atos ranking in fifth place. Both offer well-optimised landing pages. In contrast and somewhat surprisingly, global giant IBM, which partners with the NHS on a healthcare cybersecurity solution, has an NHS-specific case study page that doesn’t even make the rankings for the keyword “healthcare cybersecurity”.

Stay ahead of digital transformation in UK healthcare

With so much VC funding going into digital health, the healthcare sector will soon be flooded with ambitious startups and new solutions capable of leveraging the power of 5G and helping people live better in new and extraordinary ways. Informed organic marketing strategies is one way health organisations and healthcare technology companies can stay ahead of the increasing competition and outperform competitors by ranking higher in the SERP for keywords their customers are using.

Learn more about how Conductor can help you optimise your online presence today.

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