Adding Pink to Your Services Spectrum
Looking for new avenues to spark your healthcare business- women’s health may be the direction.
Let’s face it, every operator is searching for the latest thing, that special marketing edge or new gadget that can set their practice apart from the competition and draw in new patients. Revenue is the name of the game, but with the payers constantly changing the way the game gets played with declining reimbursement, closed networks and often unreasonable contractual requirements, its no wonder that many practices submit to joining larger health system groups.
But for those that are toughing it out, remaining independent and still believing that great care and customer service are the way to win, staying on top means you must find ways to keep your practice fresh and meeting the needs of the patient population out there. That’s where keeping your fingers on the community’s pulse becomes more important than ever. It's not enough to just “assume” that you know your patient base. And its certainly not enough to keep puttering along day in – day out, thinking that your urgent care can make ends meet by offering the usual treatment for strep and flu and sprains.
Take a moment and consider the following:
- Women make up more than 80% of all healthcare decisions
- 60% of women age 18-45 have seen a physician within the last 6 months
- Women spend 29% more on healthcare than men
- Women spend 50% more time providing care to family members than men (this includes younger children, older parents, spouses)
- Women live longer (85-year-old women outnumber men 2:1)
- Women tend to have more chronic diseases (38% have at least 1 chronic disease as compared to 30% of men)
- Women are more likely to want help improving or maintaining their health (59% women/46% men)
What does this mean for your practice? In years past, urgent care and even family practices have avoided traditional women’s health issues like the proverbial plague. Women have been relegated to seeking medical care for longitudinal health concerns, especially those related to obstetrics and gynecological issues to non-specialty practitioners as those physicians have become increasingly less prevalent due to a decrease in residency graduates in those specialties in the past several years. Also, factor in that OB/GYN practitioners, including mid-levels such as nurse practitioners, are less apt to locate their practice in suburban or rural areas, and access for women wanting or requiring a provider for this type of care is becoming increasingly difficult, especially for working women who find that access to those existing practitioners means taking time off from work to accommodate the availability of limited appointments.
But the lack of women’s health care reaches beyond the yearly pap smear or pelvic exam. Consider that many women are missing access to regular mammography exams and even cholesterol testing. For others, screening for mental health ailments such as depression is so frequently overlooked, that many women chalk it off as a symptom associated with their menstrual cycle or even aging.
Of course, there is a whole variety of metabolic issues that most women attribute to poor diet, but that’s only due to a lack of appropriate screening or diagnosis. Plus, there’s a staggering number of women that are under-diagnosed and under-treated for cardiac conditions and certain treatable cancers.
Under ACA, there are a variety of services that are now available and COVERED that most female patients simply are not aware of nor take advantage of receiving. Simple things like an annual physical or preventative screening such as colonoscopies are now covered at no cost.
So, what does all this mean and how can your practice tap into this resource?
Begin by recognizing that you have a LARGE segment of your potential patient population that is available to capture. In fact, in most areas, your female population typically accounts for more than 50% of the overall catchment. Plus, they’re usually already aware and utilizing your facility in some capacity; either as primary users or as the medical decision-maker for their family when episodic care is needed.
Next, consider what sort of services are in need or particularly lacking by the female population in your service area. Pay particular attention to those services that are have limited access due to location or hours of availability. If your facility – being urgent care- can provide after-hours access (evenings or weekends) to certain services particularly focused on the female segment, the marketing potential could be incredible. In a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey, nearly one in four women stated that they have postponed receiving healthcare because they couldn’t find the time to go to the doctor. Convenience is certainly key.
Lastly, take a critical look at what services your practice could easily implement. With little cost or redesign, how difficult would it be for your clinic to offer or promote screening for blood pressure (heart disease), cholesterol (heart/kidney disease), diabetes, or colorectal cancer? If you have space –resources and staff – promoting mammography or even bone density testing (DEXA scans.) And of course, remember that there can always be an opportunity to promote mental health awareness even in the most basic encounter, but offering those specific services to patients needing episodic or first-time diagnosis/management on a convenient schedule.
Remember, you have a unique position of trust with many of these potential patients. Not only has your practice/practitioners established a relationship with these household medical decision-makers, they, in turn, have entrusted the health of their children and families to your practice and continue to seek out care and medical advice from you. Helping them, encouraging them and educating them to act on their own health reinforces that your practice is truly concerned about the well-being of every family member and not just the patient presenting on the day of service.
Customizing your healthcare services to include or focus on this specific segment of the population can dramatically increase the revenue for your practice. But more importantly, it can definitely increase the overall health of the female population you serve.
Patrice Pash, BSN RN