Marketing to Moms: What Women Want in Healthcare

July 15, 2009 § 5 Comments

Health care reform is a lead story on every news outlet in the United States, and interestingly enough, the “experts” all seem to be legislators, insurance representatives, physicians and professional organizations.  Strange, isn’t it, that the primary health care decision makers, women, are not being heard.

Women as Health Care Decision Maker

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), 90% of U.S. adult women are responsible for health care decisions for themselves and/or members of their family. The family includes spouse/significant other, children, and/or adult relatives.

  • 70% of women are responsible for their own health care decisions
  • 27% are primarily responsible for their children’s health care decisions
  • 20% are primarily responsible for their spouse/significant other
  • 6% are in charge of an adult relative’s health care decisions
  • Older women aged 45+ are twice as likely as those 18-44 to be primarily responsible for their spouse/significant other’s healthcare decisions.

In a May 2008 poll released by the AAFP, some 60% said they face challenges in obtaining health care for themselves and/or family members, such as,

  • A system of confusing communications
  • Duplicative paperwork and tests
  • Contradictory recommendations from different doctors

What do women want from the health care system?

These very same challenges that women report are some of the escalating cost-drivers in the health care system.  Women have very distinct views on what they would like from the health care system.

  • 68% want same-day appointments with the primary care physician for unexpected illnesses
  • 63% what a relationship with a doctor who knows their medical history
  • 63% want one doctor who can manage chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease
  • 60% think that technology that allows doctors to send medical records and patient histories to other doctors as extremely important
  • 57% said one doctor who can provide high quality health care to all family members regardless of age or gender was extremely important
  • 50% said doctors should be able to send prescriptions to pharmacists electronically

Obstacles to Health Care

Women report many challenges to getting the health care they need.  High on the list are financial reasons which include no insurance to high co-pays.  Preventive health suffers from some of the same issues.  However, some of the other barriers to health care have to do with individual time constraints, the “hassle factor”, lack of convenience and time it takes to get an appointment.

Consumer is now the Brand Manager

During years of interviewing consumers on their health care attitudes, there has been a common strain of thought.  Consumers are now demanding the same type of service, information and respect that they find in other retail and service industries.  They are in fact the brand manager for those brands they use and respect. Health care and health care reformers should take heed.


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§ 5 Responses to Marketing to Moms: What Women Want in Healthcare

  • Tom Blue says:

    I’m not sure how unique to women these wishes of health care providers are. As a man, I’d agree strongly with all of these.

    What we have to remember in the midst of our frustration with our doctors is that most of them are no happier with the service they provide than we are as patients. Sadly, doctors – especially those in primary care, are faced with pay cut after pay cut imposed by government and commercial payers and are only able to compensate by seeing more and more patients. The result… more waiting, shorter appointments, more errors,… the stuff we all hate about going to the doctor.

    I would encourage anyone who shares these frustrations to locate a private physician (“concierge” physician) in your community. These doctors have been courageous enough to change their business models to allow themselves to return to the service of their patients unencumbered by third party payers and the associated unhealthy pressures of that model of payment for medical services.

    You will find them to be responsive, innovative, prevention-oriented, responsible managers of your medical information, guardians of your privacy, and in most every case – extraordinarily well credentialed as a physician.

    A directory of private physicians can be found at:

  • Kelly Watson says:

    I surfed over here from Holly Buchanan’s blog, and I just wanted to say thanks for the informative stats. Wonder if those in the healthcare industry will wise up and pay attention, or are they all too consumed by the recent legislative changes?

    • Jamie Dunham says:

      Thanks for your comments. I think the “business” of healthcare has become the overriding issue, rather than the delivery of healthcare. Too many practitioners are as distraught as the public over healthcare.

  • Karen Stone says:

    Thanks for the great post, Jamie! As a busy mom, so many of your points really resonate with me. I often neglect my own healthcare needs to tend to those of my family. Time is definitely my worst enemy… so often, when I need care, I end up going to a “doc in a box” rather than my primary care physician. I wish it were easier!

    • Jamie Dunham says:

      Hi Karen – Thanks for the comment. You are right. We do put ourselves at the bottom of the list. And so many women are putting off healthcare because of lack of insurance, recessionary pressures or high co-pays. Hope to see you soon! Just left a NAMA Aim Awards meeting….

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