By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
The patient is going away and the consumer is here to stay. We’ve seen and discussed this trend for years, and today, we have the chance to see how this shift to consumerism affects various demographics—and women in particular.
This week on our podcast, I’m talking with Rob Klein, founder and CEO of Klein & Partners, which provides research and consulting services solely to the healthcare industry . He’s been on our show several times and his research is always insightful. Today, we discuss the differences between how men and women search online for healthcare, and how hospitals and healthcare organizations can reach these “household CEOs” where they really are.
Listen to our podcast interview below, or keep reading to get my insights.
Female Healthcare Consumers: 2018 National Omnibus Study Results
This online survey was fielded March 23-29, 2018, with a national sample including an oversample of women. The primary question the survey seeks to answer:
What are the differences (and similarities) between men and women when it comes to their online health-related searching behavior?
Klein says that it surprised him to see some differences, but in many areas there were no notable differences at all (except by other factors like age). In our interview, we discussed our major insights into the findings—find the complete report below.
Women More Likely to Search Online for Healthcare
The study found a 10-point increase in the number of consumers searching for online healthcare information over 2 years. While 62% of consumers reported searching online for healthcare information in 2016, 72% reported the same in 2018.
What’s more—women are significantly more likely than men to search for this information online. They’re also more likely than men to search on a smartphone.
So, Klein asks of healthcare providers, “Are you meeting them where they are? Are you targeting types of programs and relationship-building dialogue that are appealing to women?”
He describes the idea of women as the “household CEOs.” Women are making decisions for their own healthcare and their families’ healthcare. On top of their other responsibilities, women feel rushed.
The smartphone is the device that bridges the gap between their busy lives and their need for healthcare information. You need a mobile strategy to help these women get the information and services they need.
The Increase of Voice Search
Voice search was one part of the survey in which Klein & Partners saw no difference between women and men. While about 23% of consumers have used voice search for healthcare-related queries, the difference comes by generation: 42% of millenials have used it while only 5% of seniors have.
Echo, Google Home, and other voice search devices are barely a couple of years old, but a quarter of consumers have already used the technology.
So what is healthcare doing to reach these younger people using voice search? What types of services and tools do you have available for younger people doing voice search? And how can we use this technology to help the “household CEOs” feel like their time is valuable?
Increases in Website Visits
The survey found that 44% of people have visited a hospital or health system website (up from 29% in 2018). These numbers do not differ between male and female; the difference is in how they end up at the website and why they visit.
Millennials are likely to have done a Google search; 10% of millennials have clicked on an online ad and gone to a healthcare website. And the women among them are likely to try and make an appointment.
They are the household schedulers, and it’s all about access and convenience to them. If you do not have an online scheduling system, you’re already behind.
Klein notes that years ago, in focus groups, consumers would compare a bad healthcare website or ad to another healthcare website they like. Today, consumers compare healthcare websites to other industries. One woman told Klein during a focus group, “It’s easier to do business on my bank’s website than this hospital’s—and that’s not saying much.”
What’s Important to Women Consumers?
Klein’s survey asked participants about the different types of health and wellness outreach available to residents and whether they had participated.
The results showed that women are significantly more likely than men to have participated in health and wellness education and, more importantly, caregiver support and training.
The “sandwich household” is becoming more common with growing populations, with parents living with younger generations and daughters or daughters-in-law often taking on the responsibility of providing care. The female “household CEO” may not require care right now but she needs you to help her to be a better caregiver. Give her the resources and knowledge she needs, and even the understanding that she’s tired. What can you do that’s not a traditional healthcare service to make her time feel valued?
Women are also more likely than men to say that family comfort is important when they’re sick. Healthcare is a team sport. How you treat the family is just as important to the household CEO as how you treat the patient. Klein does a lot of work in the urgent care setting. He says the best way to make a mom love your brand is with pediatric care. How you treat their child will lead to either loyalty or distance from your brand.
The Big Picture
Klein says that too often in healthcare, we’re focused on trying to get people to do a transaction. We focus, for example, on marketing a particular service line, and are very silo-ed in our mentality. And women in healthcare want to feel that you care for their total well-being.
The bottom line, he says, is that:
“Most people, especially women, want a relationship, not a transaction. So what are you doing to build that relationship, not just try to sell as many disparate products and services as you can?
Relationships are long term, not short term. So as you’re looking at targeting women with your services, look at it from a holistic standpoint.”