May 8 – May 14 is National Women’s Health Week (NWHW), a time to focus on and emphasize women’s health. This year’s theme, Forward Focus: Achieving Healthier Futures Together, is about reflecting on individual health needs and actions as well as greater population trends and evolving healthcare needs for women. Over the past few years, many women have deprioritized their health and wellness needs or been unable to maintain standard routines of care while also experiencing higher levels of physical and mental stress. 

Women hold positions of incredible importance and value in our healthcare system and beyond. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation analysis found that a staggering 77% of health care workers with direct patient contact are women, and this share rises to 84% among those working in long-term care settings. Two out of every three caregivers in the United States are women, meaning they provide daily or regular support to children, adults, or people with chronic illnesses or disabilities.

Within the home, women make 80% of health care decisions for their families, and because of their role as primary caregivers are more likely to place their own health and care last. In addition, negative experiences within the health care system may discourage women from seeking care – according to the 2020 KFF Women’s Health Survey, two in ten women say that their provider dismissed their concerns, and 13% report that their provider assumed something about them without asking. 

In light of National Women’s Health Week, healthcare organizations have an opportunity to highlight the importance of preventive care for women and move female health consumers toward behaviors that support long-term health. These include exercising, eating well, practicing self-care to manage stress and mental health, and staying up to date with annual screenings that lead to early disease detection and effective treatment. 

The Importance of Women’s Health Communication

Healthcare organizations must recognize and understand the health conditions that affect women and account for their specific barriers to care to communicate effectively with this patient population. The most recent CDC data attributes heart disease and cancer as the top two leading causes of death in females across the United States, and studies have shown that health issues like strokes are more likely to occur in women. Many women are also unaware of the risk factors and symptoms unique to women and may wait longer to get help or face different barriers in seeking care.

Communicating with women about the specifics of diabetes management and prevention is also incredibly important – according to the CDC, diabetes increases the risk of heart disease (the most common diabetes complication) by about four times in women but only about two times in men, and women have worse outcomes after a heart attack. Women are also at higher risk of other diabetes-related complications such as blindness, kidney disease, and depression. 

Raising awareness about the chronic conditions and health risks women face is critical due to knowledge gaps and misperceptions created by the historical exclusion of women from medical research. There are significant public health concerns, however, regarding areas of care exclusive to women like maternal and child health. The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate among 11 developed nations, and black women are up to four times more likely to die in childbirth than white women. In addition to supporting and elevating alliances like Black Mamas Matter, healthcare organizations must deliver effective, relevant messages to women in their communities about the impact of health behaviors on pregnancy and potential pregnancy-related complications

Promoting Preventive Measures

When it comes to women’s health, your communication and engagement strategy should include informative, personalized messages that urge women to prioritize their health in tangible ways that are reflective of their risks as well as their cultural norms and preferences. 

Attending scheduled screenings like mammograms and colonoscopies, as well as annual well visits, remains critical for the early detection of care conditions or health factors that could lead to them. These appointments provide opportunities to outline treatment plans and recommended lifestyle and behavior changes that impact outcomes. 

Johns Hopkins Medicine has an excellent guide that establishes the timeline for women’s preventive care and which screenings are appropriate for certain age groups. Making patients aware of these important care visits is the first step in driving higher engagement and improving women’s health across your population; the next is understanding and addressing the barriers that prevent women from scheduling and showing up for the appointments.

Overcoming Barriers

Patient no-show rates across the country can range anywhere from 12% up to an overwhelming 80%, according to recent research. There are a multitude of reasons why this data shows such a high no-show rate – gender, age, service quality, number of preceding appointments, appointment lead times, waiting times, and digital health literacy all play a part in whether a patient attends their appointment or not. 

An interesting side note: while general no-shows continue to trend upwards, the COVID-19 pandemic actually does not appear to have greatly affected no-show rates for either telehealth or in-person care. And, while telehealth options continue to increase, nearly 70% of patients still prefer an in-person doctor appointment. So how can healthcare organizations reconcile this patient desire for in-person care with high no-show rates? 

The messages you send and the communication channels and digital health tools you utilize make a difference. You are communicating with individuals bringing a range of emotions, past experiences, logistics, and cultural norms in addition to the cognitive biases and barriers that influence each individual woman’s health decisions. A recent analysis by McKinsey highlights the different perceptions of care across race and ethnicity, with Black and Latino consumers reporting a greater likelihood of healthcare being negatively influenced by their race—a difference that extended to access and avenues of care, solicitation of medical advice, higher cost burdens to obtain care, and more unmet health-related basic needs.  

Accounting for both social determinants of health (SDOH) and individual experiences builds a deeper understanding of who your patients are and what holds them back from prioritizing their health screenings or adopting healthy habits. Only then can you foster individual agency and establish care pathways that help them take the next right steps on their health journeys.

How Precision Nudging™ Supports Women’s Health

Precision Nudging™ is Lirio’s unique approach to increasing health consumer engagement, allowing you to tailor communications at the right time, in the right ways, to overcome each individual’s specific barriers to action.

Precision Nudging™ easily integrates throughout your tech stack to automate the creation and deployment of hyper-personalized messages that move people toward healthy behaviors and actions. Our solution includes libraries of pre-built interventions that utilize a rich set of Behavioral Science Solutions (BSS) across message components and desired actions. These BSS are active behavioral science ingredients in our intervention messages designed to influence decision making, such as subject lines that incorporate anticipated regret or body copy and tailored visuals that apply evidence-based strategies like social comparison or incentives. Our AI engine determines the appropriate next best action for a consumer and prioritizes the most effective intervention and channel. 

For example, a woman more than two years overdue for a mammogram appointment may get an email with language, visuals, and a call to action that highlight the number of women in her age range who get mammograms each year – drawing social comparison and nudging her toward action.

The Precision Nudging approach has shown to be effective not only among consumers committed to a particular health care organization but also those without a current primary care provider or system relationship. At a time when so many women have gotten off track with their own care journey, our Precision Nudging interventions are tailored to the health behaviors and care conditions which are foundational for women’s health. These include:

  • Digital Engagement
  • Diabetes Care
  • Mammography
  • Vaccination
  • Well Visits
  • Member Enrollment
  • Virtual Care
  • Mental Health  

What’s Next?

Check out one of our Precision Nudging case studies, where a client used our solution to engage 80% of their female patients who were overdue for their mammograms. 

If you’re ready to learn more about our Precision Nudging engine and programs for women’s health, reach out to us via our Contact page and we’ll be in touch with you.