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The Crucial Role of Women as Healthcare Decision Makers

HealthWare Systems Blog

The Crucial Role of Women as Healthcare Decision Makers

Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2020

In order to attract and retain the loyalty of an extremely important demographic, health facilities must recognize women as healthcare decision makers.  Many women determine not only where they will receive care, but where their family members will as well.

This woman taking her daughter to see a doctor represents one of the responsibilities of some women as healthcare decision makers.

Hospitals must recognize women as healthcare decision makers.

Consider the following statistics that illustrate the significant role of women as healthcare decision makers for their families:

  1. Seventy-nine percent of mothers report that they usually choose their children’s healthcare provider, compared to 22% of fathers who report responsibility for this decision.

  2. Seventy-seven percent of mothers report that they usually take their children to doctor’s appointments, compared to 24% of fathers who report responsibility for this.

  3. Whether or not they are married or have children, 94% of women make healthcare decisions for themselves and 59% make healthcare decisions for others.

  4. According to the CDC, 58% of family caregivers are women (although other estimates range from 53 to 68 percent).

  5. In its study on women and healthcare decisions, the Center for Talent Innovation found that 58% of women who make healthcare decisions for others lack confidence in their ability to do so.

Based on the results of its study, the CTI report suggests ways in which healthcare professionals and organizations like doctors, pharmacists, and insurance and pharmaceutical companies could build more trusting relationships with their female patients and consequently improve their confidence.

Additionally, the authors recommend viewing women as the “Chief Medical Officers” of their families to ensure their roles as healthcare decision makers get the “notice or respect” they deserve.

When a hospital recognizes women as healthcare decision makers, focusing on appealing to female healthcare consumers makes sense.  Ideally, once you’ve earned the loyalty of your female patients, they will book their family members’ appointments with your organization as well.

Here are a few ways some facilities are appealing to female healthcare consumers:

  1. Directing marketing efforts toward female healthcare consumers (while avoiding gender stereotypes) – For example, MDG Advertising suggests an approach that empowers “women with knowledge and confidence to make informed decisions for themselves and their families.”

  2. Utilizing social media in healthcare – Many women share and find health information online and word-of-mouth recommendations through social media are especially influential for female consumers.

  3. Monitoring online patient reviews – Since word-of-mouth plays a role in many women’s healthcare decisions, it’s particularly important for health facilities to manage their online reviews and provide strong patient testimonials on their websites.

  4. Saving women time and money – Women’s busy schedules can get in the way of their health. Offering digital medicine options, like Ochsner Health System’s Connected MOM program, can reduce the number of face-to-face visits necessary for their care.  Additionally, some facilities offer convenient on-site childcare for in-person appointments.

  5. The “Mammoglam” – Clinics are creating a “spa-like” experience to make mammogram appointments enjoyable. (See our blog on increasing mammogram appointments.)

Hospitals can’t afford to ignore the large influence women have over the health and healthcare decisions of their partners/spouses, children, elderly parents, and other relatives.  Recognizing and appealing to women as healthcare decision makers can help you gain more female patients and, importantly, numerous other patients related to them.


By Stephanie Salmich

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