Digital transformation: when everything stopped, it was time to start

HCA Healthcare UK

Equator was appointed lead digital agency for HCA in April 2019.

Private healthcare centres of excellence

HCA Healthcare is one of the UK’s leading healthcare groups, operating eight private hospitals in Britain - including famous centres of excellence like the Lister and London Bridge - as well as outpatient and diagnostic centres, and private GP services.


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Ready for the new normal

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the private healthcare industry experienced a wholesale diversion of resources to support the national effort to handle the crisis. While many others in the sector put development on hold, HCA took the opportunity to invest and drive change, particularly in digital. They asked us for a thorough prognosis of their web presence.


Frankly, we found a digital infrastructure that was coming apart at the seams, with the site crashing on a regular basis. Consultants, stakeholders and patients all hated it. The outlook wasn’t healthy - at least not without a major overhaul. We had to create a programme of activity to deliver a world-class digital experience, driving patient growth and loyalty.

The course of treatment

We embarked on a full re-platform and upgrade of the Sitecore instance, establishing foundations for a comprehensive roadmap of deliverables and objectives. Once the site was stable, we set about our plan, focusing on a short-term programme of technical fixes plus a long-term set of transformational workstreams.

Re-engaging a disenfranchised business

We engaged with stakeholders and conducted user testing with consumers to understand how the HCA website was perceived, and to identify areas of friction and confusion. This included holding in-depth interviews with clinical staff and patients, before synthesising findings into business and digital goals. Taking the time to re-engage helped us prioritise our task list across critical and longer-term aims.

Up and running better than ever

Short-term action included CRO optimisation, technical stabilisation, and implementing new functional enhancements to allow digital marketing to continue. We also re-designed the key brand and marketing pages to improve user journeys and goal completions.


The long-term roadmap included a redefined global site architecture, card sorting and taxonomy research, and omnichannel personalisation. We began developing global navigation, wayfinding and site search, while improving mobile and responsive performance and creating new user journeys in line with audience priorities.

The results so far

Our work on HCA’s long-term roadmap is ongoing, but we’ve already seen impressive results. Some key figures are:

100% site uptime and stability

34,733 new organic users, ranking for +125% organic keywords

5000+ broken links, redirection errors, crawlability concerns and sitemap errors fixed

Significant year-on-year digital revenue increase, despite the pandemic

Digital excellence for the home of clinical excellence

For a brand like HCA which stands for clinical excellence, nothing else but an excellent digital experience will do. That’s precisely what we’re delivering. Talk to us about how we can align your digital estate with your brand’s core values.