The path to a diagnosis and treatment is often murky for women, as studies show that their health concerns are often overlooked or undervalued. A recent New York Times article addressed the bias and discrimination some women face in a healthcare setting. Among the sobering statistics were the following:
- In a University of Pennsylvania study, women waited 16 minutes longer to receive pain medication
- Women are more likely to be told their pain is “psychosomatic”
- In a survey of 2,400 women with chronic pain, 83% felt they experienced gender discrimination
How do we help bridge this gap in health disparities? As Chief Medical Officers of their homes, it is imperative for women to be their healthiest and feel heard so they can advocate for their own families. This means that employers, payors and providers must work together to ensure women have the support they need to feel empowered when navigating the health-care ecosystem. This includes:
1. Quality Education. Women need access to guideline-based health information, which informs healthy practices such as exams, prescriptions, and treatments. An awareness of these guidelines per demographic (age group, sex, etc.) can help women stay proactive and on top of scheduling exams and understanding options.
2. Connections to Care. Most women have access to a variety of support programs, including 24-hour nurselines, wellness services and maternity coaches. The problem is that many times women are not fully aware of these benefits. Another prevalent obstacle is that connections to these benefits are not convenient.
3. Smart Tools. Recording health information can help women take control of their own personal medical profile and see patterns over time. Smartphones and apps have the ability to track behaviors and actions such as vaccination schedules, flu shot reminders, mental health screening, and questions to ask a doctor. Providing access to mobile-based tools can fuel greater engagement and simplify the healthcare system in the process.
To completely eliminate the bias and discrimination women face will require the healthcare system to respond differently. We all know that is a slow and deliberate process. In the meantime, we can all fuel change by equipping women with the confidence and skills needed to expertly navigate the system and advocate for the absolute best care for their families.
If you would like to learn more about how mobile health technologies can empower women and eradicate disparities in care, we’d love to share our experience in this arena. Contact us today to learn more about how we empower women through digital health education and tools.