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Two Reasons it's the Era of the Woman in Healthcare

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, October 2, 2009

They're still not the majority in terms of hospital leadership, but maybe it's time to pay a little more attention to women and healthcare, at least as far as the strategic direction your hospital or health system should be taking. I just got my hands on HCUP Facts and Figures: Statistics on Hospital-Based Care in the United States, 2007, from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. I know it's a mouthful, but you should get your hands on it too.

Even though its most recent information is from 2007, it's a treasure trove of data that might help your strategic planning for years to come. The part of the extensive report that stands out most to me is Section 2, which probes deeply into inpatient hospital stays by diagnosis. We all know that women are big decision-makers in healthcare. Men often let their health and the health of their families take a back seat to other concerns. Not women. But you knew that already.

However, what you might not know is that women, particularly young women, could be the key to your success or failure as CEO in the coming years.

Here's why:

  • Conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth were the reason for more than one out of every five female hospitalizations in 2007.
  • When combined with stays for newborn infants, these hospitalizations accounted for one-quarter of all stays.

As I mentioned, those are only two statistics in a report that bursts with them, but they stood out to me in because if you're pouring money into your orthopedic or heart program and paying little attention to women's health, you might be playing your cards at the wrong table, so to speak.

Taking time to study this report can help you distinguish between the hype and the reality of where you should be investing your critical and limited capital budget. For instance, we keep hearing how the uninsured are putting extreme pressure on the healthcare system. There's a lot of truth to that hype, but according to this report, the uninsured accounted for about 6% of all hospital stays in 2007—about the same as in 1997.

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