To kick off National Women’s Health Week, we facilitated a discussion with leaders from American Cancer Society and BD on inspiring and supporting proactive women’s health. Our conversation covered several ways the health ecosystem seeks to better understand women’s needs and a meaningful care journey.
The discussion was moderated by Marlana Voerster, senior healthcare & life sciences strategist at Perficient. Experts included:
- Kathleen Goss, PhD, SVP, Partnerships & Capacity Building, American Cancer Society
- Barbara Rhodes, Senior Manager, Digital Marketing, Home Care DTC, Urology & Critical Care, Becton Dickinson
- Chandra Craven, Senior Healthcare Strategist, DE&I Lead, Perficient
Here are three takeaways from the session:
1. Women are Not a Monolith
Our discussion began around the issue of personalization in healthcare and how to properly segment this audience.
Barbara Rhodes (BR): It’s on us to make sure we’re providing good, comprehensive information that can answer as many questions as possible for as many people as possible. We were serving a woman… who told us “I might be caring for my mom, but I’m a patient too!” We have to make sure that our messaging speaks to her in many different roles.
Chandra Craven (CC): I’ve seen the necessity, but also the lack, of thinking about intersectionality. The one-size-fits-all marketing that’s aimed at women in healthcare is still very much aimed at a demographic that is white, straight, suburbanite, and neither millennial nor over 65.
Intersectionality, which I’m going to give the Oxford Dictionary definition of, is the interconnected nature of social classifications such as race, class, and gender. I’m going to add sexual identity and age here as well. As we marketers build personas, customer journeys, websites, digital marketing campaigns, etc., do we even think about intersectionality? What does that mean for segmenting audiences to address their unique needs?
I was really surprised that when I was giving birth to my daughter, that regardless of my education, income, and access to care, I almost became a part of a growing statistic of 1-in-4 Black women dying in childbirth. That taught me a lot. We need to get rid of the mythology that one woman’s experience addresses all needs.
READ MORE: Chandra Craven, Author at Perficient Blogs
2. Building Trust
While women make 90% of household healthcare decisions, 66% of them feel misunderstood by the healthcare industry. Despite being such a large stakeholder group in healthcare, their unique needs tend to be misunderstood and overlooked. This has understandably resulted in many barriers to trust.
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BR: What we have heard from our ladies is that they don’t necessarily want to talk about their issue around urinary incontinence, or other very personal things, until it’s gotten to a certain threshold. This is why we feel the onus is on us to make sure that we’re answering as many questions and providing as much information as we can and making it easily findable. We have systems in place to answer them in a way that lets them feel comfortable asking questions. It’s our job to make sure we’re putting as much information as we can, so that they are aware of their options, because the providers may not know, and patients may not mention it.
Kathleen Goss (GS): This trust issue is such an important one. At the American Cancer Society, we take pride in being the number one trusted source of information for cancer. The key is making it accessible for everyone. Barbara talked about making sure people can find it, but it’s also about making sure people can understand what you’re saying, and that it’s relevant, culturally sensitive, and addresses multiple audiences’ needs. In terms of oncology information, it’s not about the patient alone. We also need to reach the caregiver, loved ones, and people before they have cancer to teach about how to lower risk and prevent the disease. All the way from treatment through survivorship, it’s about meeting people where they are.
CC: When people see people of similar backgrounds as their providers or their caregivers, they find that connection and that trust. I’ve seen this recently in some clinical trial work that we’ve been doing, around recruiting certain groups of people. You have to think about who’s doing the recruiting to which audience, and if the audience will feel trusting of the way they are being recruited and of their recruiter.
LEARN MORE: Marlana Voerster, Author at Perficient Blogs
3. Addressing Health Equity
Every woman’s experience and needs are unique. In the context of closing health equity gaps, our panel explored whether it’s enough to broadcast tailored information across channels.
CC: We need to think much broader. If you are trying to reach groups outside of what you may be a part of, you must start connecting with people from those groups who can tell you where they are. We want to be a part of these communities.
We have a client that I’m really proud of in terms of the work that they did for the LGBTQ+ community, particularly for their trans patients, trans women for example. They were looking at their website and thinking about how they can be more inclusive, virtually. One thing we looked at was adding flags to the name if their provider, so that when a patient used find-a-doctor, they could use a filter to find a LGBTQ+ supportive provider. That’s a big deal for someone in need of care that doesn’t have time to determine whether or not the provider is going to be supportive of them. Knowing someone is trained, experienced, and ready to provide you with care is a big win.
KG: Related to what you just shared, Chandra, we just had a great learning session for primary care providers to talk about cancer for the LGBTQ+ community. There are a lot of issues, like screening or reducing cancer risk for example, where our providers don’t have the toolbox to make sure that their patients feel heard and seen. This takes a partnership among all of us. These are complicated challenges that we all face and barriers to care that women, especially from those populations, have been traditionally excluded. Leveraging best practices, our expertise, our lived experience, and collaboration is so important.
BR: Our legal, regulatory, and medical teams have recently said, “Yeah, we need more language in plainer speech rather than medical lingo that people will understand.” So now, we can work collaboratively with them to try to evolve our language and make it approachable and relevant to them and relevant to their searches.
EXPLORE NOW: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) in Healthcare
We invite you to learn more by watching the full recording of our event below.
Raising Visibility and Funding for Women-led Cancer Research
In celebration of this event, we’ve set a goal to raise $5,000 in support of American Cancer Society’s ResearcHERS program, an innovative initiative that elevates women-led cancer research. The American Cancer Society has funded 50 researchers who have gone on to receive the Nobel Prize, and in 2022, Dr. Carolyn Bertozzi became the first woman ACS has funded to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Join the ResearcHERS movement and help us fuel the future of women-led cancer research.
Learn more and make a donation: Perficient Gives + ResearcHERS
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