For the last 16 years, Mother’s Day has also signaled the start of National Women’s Health Week. The annual observance, led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, has the goal of empowering women to make their own health a priority. It’s a fitting time to look at how hospitals and other healthcare providers can develop more effective patient engagement strategies by better understanding women’s attitudes toward health.
Women Take the Lead in Healthcare Decision-Making
A recent blog from health insurer Aetna called women the “Chief Medical Officers” for their families and others. Citing a study from the Center for Talent Innovation, the blog offers some interesting statistics about women and healthcare:
- 53 percent believe they access the best health information online, but only 22 percent of these women trust the information they find.
- 94 percent of women make the majority of health decisions for themselves.
- 59 percent of women make the majority of health decisions for others.
Note, while I was still at P&G, extensive research conducted by my team consistently found that female heads of household made over 70% of healthcare decisions for their families, across products, providers and health insurance.
The blog also notes that women cite hectic schedules, lack of reliable information and distrust in the healthcare industry as the primary barriers to confident decision-making. It’s clear that hospitals, health insurers and other players in the healthcare industry need to address these issues to make more meaningful connections with women.
The question is ‘how?’
Psychographic Segmentation Offers Insight into Women’s Attitudes on Health
Based on a survey of more than 4,000 respondents — 51 percent of whom were women — the PatientBond Consumer Diagnostic provides a look into consumer attitudes and behaviors towards health and wellness, healthcare, the roles of healthcare professionals and more. Consumers are not a uniform population who think and act the same, regardless of demographic or socio-economic similarities. For this reason, the PatientBond Consumer Diagnostic drills deeper, including questions to categorize respondents into five unique psychographic consumer segments:
- 18 percent are Balance Seekers. Proactive and wellness oriented, they prefer to weigh their options and define their own success. And they skew significantly to women.
- 24 percent are Self Achievers. This segment — another group that skews to women — is proactive, prioritizing both health and image and is very achievement oriented.
- 27 percent are Willful Endurers who are more likely to be reactive and live day-to-day.
- 18 percent are Priority Jugglers. They also tend to be reactive, and are more focused on others than themselves, whether that focus is on family or work.
- 13 percent are Direction Takers. They tend to be high utilizers of healthcare and trust healthcare professionals to give them directive guidance.
Based on these psychographic segments, as well as other attitudes women hold towards healthcare identified in the PatientBond Consumer Diagnostic, here are four ways organizations can improve their patient engagement strategies with regards to women:
- Increase communications related to wellness. Because women tend to be more proactive, they will be more likely to appreciate receiving information that can help them care for their loved ones, and themselves, better — particularly when it relates prevention. In the PatientBond Consumer Diagnostic survey, 76 percent of women agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “The future benefits I would experience from healthy behaviors today make the effort worth it.”
- Develop “healthy lifestyle” checklists. When asked to comment on the statement, “I make lists of things I need to accomplish throughout the day,” 56 percent of women agreed or strongly agreed — a response rate that was 18 percentage points higher (+56% more likely) than their male counterparts. Given this propensity to organize daily goals, healthcare providers that offer similar goal-setting tools to women can drive higher levels of engagement.
- Foster more collaborative relationships with female patients. Women are more likely to say that they know their bodies and their own health and wellness needs better than others, including healthcare professionals. In order to cultivate stronger relationships with female healthcare consumers, physicians need to listen and value input from their patients.
- Create online resources for self-education. Women tend to look for alternative sources of information on healthcare, but as we mentioned earlier, they worry that the information they find on the Internet is not reliable. By creating online tools where women can find relevant health and wellness information from a trusted source, hospitals and other healthcare providers can engage women where and when they are seeking healthcare advice.
By understanding how the attitudes and motivations of women differ from men, healthcare providers can significantly improve their patient engagement strategies. Read our whitepaper on psychographic segmentation or contact PatientBond for more information on our Consumer Diagnostic.