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October 29, 2018

Focus on women’s care can improve health system wellness, Part 1

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As Jane Austen once noted, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman in possession of a body will at some point be in want of healthcare. However, what seems to be less well known is the significant influence women have on the healthcare industry.*

In this three-part series, we’ll explore that impact, and why providers who best cater to women's needs for convenience, cost, and customer satisfaction can increase the wellness not only of their female patients but of their own health systems as well.

Part One: When it comes to healthcare decisions, women are in the driver’s seat

Women are CMOs of their households

Women make 80 percent of all health care decisions, according to the Department of Labor. You could argue that this is due to the fact that women seek care and treatment more often than men do, and you’d have a fair point. Women visit doctors more often, especially those in their child-bearing years who are trying to get pregnant or have recently become mothers. In addition, women are more likely to have follow-up questions after a visit or an exam.

But that’s only part of the story. Women are often the Chief Medical Officers in their own homes. Working mothers in particular—94 percent of them—make decisions about the care of their children and partners. They are also more likely to care for sick and aging parents and spouses—75 percent of caregivers are women—making them instrumental those healthcare decisions as well.

Women pay more for their own healthcare. Working age women spend 29 percent more on healthcare expenses than their male counterparts. And perhaps due to the wage gap, women are sensitive about costs, which helps drive their decisions for family members, too.

Women’s responsibilities as CMOs of their households go far beyond selecting a doctor or insurance provider. They are often responsible for scheduling appointments and taking loved ones to them (which often includes taking unpaid time off from work, driving and parking, and time spent in the waiting room), picking up prescriptions or other medications, and helping patients adhere to doctor’s orders.

It stands to reason, then, that women are selective about how and when they or someone in their household gets care, and from whom they receive it. With all of this decision-making power, women should be the center of healthcare delivery systems’ efforts at driving loyalty and attracting new patients.

In parts two and three of this series, we’ll explore:

  • Why providers need to pay attention to this large and growing segment of the patient population
  • How failing to acknowledge and address it puts the systems themselves in peril, and
  • What healthcare providers can do to embrace women’s health as a vital part of the services they offer and potential differentiator in a highly competitive market.

*Ok, Jane didn’t say that exactly, but if she were writing about the state of healthcare today, she might have.

Author:

Julia Millard

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