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A short guide to A/B testing in healthcare marketing

April 24, 2024
Reading time: 
6 mins

As patients increasingly adopt a consumer mindset, delivering digital healthcare journeys that align with their shifting expectations becomes paramount—and this is exactly what A/B testing helps healthcare marketing with.

From simple user-facing experiments to more tech-intensive engineering tasks, A/B testing helps you optimize patient experiences. These tasks can vary and include things like experimenting scheduling algorithms, improving digital appointment booking experiences or just testing copy on a landing page. In a nutshell: A/B testing enables granular control over patient journeys for more personalized and engaging digital interactions.

Where does A/B testing fit in healthcare marketing?

The first use case for A/B testing in healthcare marketing is fairly straightforward. Here, you can test different versions of your messaging, design, and conversion tools to find the ones that convert the best. A/B testing that you do here – mostly top-of-the-funnel stuff – ties directly to growth.

And your hypothesis can take many forms, including:

Web optimization for healthcare marketing

  • You can test two entirely different landing page experiences — showing half of your users a simple landing page and letting the remaining users self-categorize themselves. 
  • You can try adding a cost calculator to your landing page to test whether price transparency impacts conversions.
  • You can even experiment by adding a virtual assistant to your landing page that helps patients receive personalized assistance in the form of guided consultation or selling.


*According to a Forrester study, 44% of healthcare leaders practice this type of rule-based personalization for tailored content experiences.

Patient experience optimization for healthcare marketing

Beyond the web channel, A/B testing in healthcare marketing finds excellent use cases in delivering seamless digital experiences to your existing patients and those beginning their care journey with you.

And online appointment booking is a great place to start. In fact, McKinsey goes as far as to label appointment scheduling a “priority growth lever” for providers. That's how crucial it is. With A/B testing, you can test two completely different appointment scheduling landing page experiences and everything that lives on them, from forms to flows.

A/B testing can also optimize your patients' post-appointment booking journey. You can run A/B tests to find just the right messaging cadence with the right number of reminders delivered at the right frequency on the preferred channels, reducing cancellations, rescheduling, and no-shows. All these count toward their digital experience but tie closely to your growth metrics.

Adding a virtual check-in to your appointment workflow could also be worth testing. A good virtual check-in experience ensures that when the patient actually visits, there’s minimal friction between the digital and physical transition. With A/B testing, you can test all such digital touchpoints that can supplement the physical stages of the care journey. 

Unlike top-of-the-funnel A/B testing, this kind of A/B testing for healthcare marketing is geared more toward boosting patient engagement with improved CX. Besides improving patient engagement, such A/B testing also helps unlock your audience’s behavioral patterns that impact your growth and retention strategies. 

Feature experimentation for healthcare marketing

If you see how digital transformation applies to your healthcare marketing mix, you’ll see how A/B testing can contribute. For example, if you’re looking to launch a mobile app as part of your digital transformation process, A/B testing can help you deliver perfect functionalities for in-app messaging, push notifications, and access, among other things. You can test different implementations via feature  experimentation to find the ones that offer the most seamless user experience. 

Unlike the tests discussed above, this A/B testing is more about making the right engineering choices. For instance, if you’re overhauling your current patient portal and adding a symptom checker tool so your patients can access basic care 24/7, you can easily A/B test different algorithms to power your tool and find the better-performing one.

With these A/B tests, you’re essentially looking to optimize your "IT" choices that power your digital solutions, and, in the long term, impact your growth trajectory.

In all, you can optimize your entire digital front door when you add all these kinds of A/B tests to your marketing.

In a recent Forrester study, 33% of HCOs admitted using A/B testing in their healthcare marketing mix. Given its potential, A/B testing should be more mainstream, but it has its challenges. 

The challenges of A/B testing for healthcare marketers

Growing regulations, patient trust issues, and finding adequate tech solutions are some pressing challenges that need to be addressed when adopting A/B testing in healthcare marketing. 

Navigating highly regulated healthcare environments

In healthcare marketing, you're dealing with sensitive patient data and are subject to various regulations. It's also seen that marketers hesitate to use even risk-free data (for example, first-party data) for testing and delivering personalized experiences. There's also a need to design effective yet low-data-consuming tests, which can be challenging in itself. We’ve outlined the solution to this in an earlier piece on HIPAA compliance for HCOs. 

Gaining and maintaining patient trust

The redrawn digital privacy lines pose a challenge, too. Consumers want to know what data their providers may be collecting on them and how it’s used and shared. Ensuring compliance, embracing privacy by design, and transparent communications are some ways to approach this.

Accessing full stack capabilities

When you're just starting out, a solution that only offers web optimization can suffice. However, as you move beyond that, you need to execute tests that run deep within your funnel and tech stack, involving your marketing, product, and engineering teams. Orchestrating such A/B testing programs needs a truly full stack testing solution. 

Knowing what to look for in a healthcare A/B testing solution is the key to navigating these challenges and supporting end-to-end digital patient journey optimization. 

What to look for in a healthcare A/B testing solution?

Given the heavily regulated nature of the healthcare industry, the complex digital care journey, and the need to accommodate experimentation across marketing, experience, and engineering departments, you need to review vendors for compliance, support for full stack testing, and capabilities to orchestrate organization-wide experiments. Here are a few considerations.

HIPAA compliance is nonnegotiable

You want your testing solution vendor to sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) with you. You might also want GDPR and CCPA compliance. Flexible user consent management is another feature to look out for. You’d also need to see if your testing solution integrates with your user research and analytics tools.

Support for full stack testing is important

Here, besides basic web experimentation, you’d need to look for features like feature experimentation that let you deliver different experiences to your different user segments. Also, don’t forget the heavy-duty server-side testing, which will allow you to optimize the technical stuff powering your patient-facing digital experiences. And, of course, you need support for mobile app testing.

All-team experimentation capabilities are essential

In our survey of 159 experimentation leaders across the USA and UK, 90% of the leading organizations said they preferred a single digital experimentation platform throughout the organization. And understandably so — using a single experimentation solution across your entire HCO is how you truly allow all stakeholders to participate in experimentation.

Kameleoon is designed for healthcare marketing

As a HIPAA compliant A/B testing solution, Kameleoon empowers healthcare organizations to experiment, personalize, and build products tailored to engaging patient experiences. From our user-friendly interface to flexible user consent management, in tandem with our powerful comprehensive All-Team Experimentation platform, there’s a reason why healthcare organizations trust Kameleoon.

See why more healthcare organizations trust Kameleoon for their marketing programs.

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