To thrive in today's marketplace, healthcare organizations must offer female-specific medical expertise that meets women's expectations as consumers.
This article first appeared in the December 2016 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.
Less than a generation ago, medicine generally approached female patients as though they were simply smaller men, with the differences in reproductive organs and sex hormones representing somewhat of a "black box," says Dixie Horning, executive director, COE and associate chair, finance and administration, in the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) National Center of Excellence in Women's Health.
UCSF was designated with the National Centers of Excellence in Women's Health in 1996, sponsored by the Office on Women's Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The center was tasked with promoting sex and gender research as essential for understanding women's (and men's) health and disease, encouraging the development of multidisciplinary clinical care organized around the needs and preferences of women and based upon the emerging evidence, and more.
While the science of women's health is better understood than it was 20 years ago, female-focused service lines must continue to evolve to meet women's unique lifelong health needs in an ever-shifting healthcare landscape.
Success key No. 1: Appreciate the power of female consumers
The top reason to make women's health a priority, experts agree, is because of the tremendous buying power women have as healthcare consumers and influencers. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women make about 80% of healthcare decisions for their families.
"They're also the toughest critics," says Adrienne Kirby, PhD, FACHE, president and CEO of Cooper University Health Care, which includes Cooper University Hospital, an academic tertiary-care medical center, and more than 100 outpatient locations throughout New Jersey.
Debra Shute is the Senior Physicians Editor for HealthLeaders Media.