Online searches for private healthcare jump 45% amid NHS woes


New analysis shows that interest in private healthcare is surging as people look for alternatives to the NHS in the face of ongoing strikes and treatment delays where almost 60% of patients are waiting in excess of 18 weeks to start treatment.

Private healthcare searches

Online searches for a range of healthcare-related terms have soared: “private healthcare” has jumped by 45% year-on-year and “private health insurance” by 31% when comparing the three months from January to March 2023 to the same period in 2022.

Searches for the term “private GP” shot up by 50% while “private hospitals” saw an increase of almost 15% and “private blood test” rose by over 21% when comparing the same periods.

Some of the UK’s biggest private healthcare providers are reaping the benefits of this growing demand. Over the same period, searches for “Bupa” jumped 25%, “AXA Health” by 34% and “Benenden Health” by a massive 43%.

“Vitality” saw a more modest 0.13% increase, but still racked up 428,488 searches.

The analysis was carried out by digital marketing agency MediaVision using its proprietary Digital Demand Tracker tool, part of its Metis technology that analyses UK search data from AdWords and Google Trends, and is able to produce search insights four times faster than standard industry SEO tools.

This surge in online searches comes as one in eight Britons used private healthcare in the past 12 months.

Healthcare providers have seen revenues increase significantly in recent years with AXA Health reporting a 16% uplift for 2022.

More detailed information and analysis on the search data is available at MediaVision’s website, detailing the growing interest in private healthcare.

Louis Venter, CEO at MediaVision, said: “This growth in online searches tracks against the increases in turnover and the new product launches announced by many of the top UK private healthcare providers in the last couple of years.

“They’re keen to take advantage of a rapidly-growing market. And if the predictive nature of search is anything to go by, we are likely to see this consumer behaviour continuing.

“It seems that ‘going private’ is no longer just for the rich – many people seem to be willing to dig into their savings to circumvent the continuing pressures and delays facing the NHS, particularly for surgeries like knee and hip replacements.

“With doctor and nurse strike action set to continue into the summer, this trend is unlikely to go away anytime soon. It may be that the UK is heading for a two-tier health system despite some politicians’ protestations to the contrary.”