The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 15.6 percent of women over 18 years old are in fair or poor health and that 11 percent of women under 65 do not have health insurance coverage. Women hold up half the sky, which means they must receive the best healthcare possible. Here are some ways medical professionals and the healthcare industry are improving women’s healthcare.
Electronic health records (EHR)
One of the best and most effective strategies healthcare professionals can employ is technology, especially with the pandemic increasing the need for this process. The past year and a half have already been incredibly stressful for everyone, but even more so for pregnant women. Imagine having to worry about contracting COVID-19 while on a visit to your doctor, not knowing how it can affect your baby in the long term.
Thankfully, many OB-GYNs started using EHR software and telemedicine. These new tools allow primary care providers to be more efficient in the services they provide, all while letting their patients ask questions from the comfort of their homes. Technology can play a big role at a time when pregnant women need to take every safety precaution possible to protect their unborn babies.
Another tech tool that doctors and medical health professionals utilize to provide better healthcare for women is telemedicine. Telemedicine reduces travel, which makes it more convenient for women to manage their day-to-day chores, decreases their treatment and travel expenses, and greatly reduces any form of apprehension they may feel about having to share their reproductive and sexual health problems, especially if the consultation is done through mobile phone instead of Zoom or video call.
It may be an understatement to say that women in developing countries have a harder time controlling their own healthcare outcomes, especially since many have to deal with poverty and lack access to quality medical services. One of the things that experts and healthcare professionals want to emphasize is the role of empowerment, which can help women find autonomy through education and information. Helping underserved women in developing nations gain access to healthcare services will take more than just the medical industry; it needs the support of governments, too.
Addressing diseases more common to women
According to the CDC, women are much more likely to be diagnosed with specific diseases than men. Some of these diseases include chronic ones like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes—and they are some leading causes of mortality for women. Other illnesses that afflict women more than men are depression, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Despite this, there is an epidemic of some primary healthcare providers not taking women at their word, especially those who experience chronic pains or discomfort. The healthcare industry is addressing this by individualizing treatment and doing more studies on pain, which are more focused on women, and to use sex as a biological variable. Now, thanks to the policy put forth by the U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH), anyone who is applying for grant funding must research both males and females. If they don’t, they must provide a compelling reason as to why they would only be examining one sex.
Expanding insurance coverage
In the past few years, there has been a push to expand insurance coverage for women, especially those who come from lower-income households. Since families face so much more complexities and challenges during pregnancy and new parenthood—such as transitions in income, relationship status, employment, and others—expanding women’s insurance coverage was an essential first step to helping women gain access to better healthcare services.
More medical education and training
Another way the healthcare industry is working to improve women’s healthcare is by equipping providers to address the specific biological needs of women. One example of this is women who experience chronic pain due to more female diseases like endometriosis, which is often the cause of the chronic pain that many women experience. As researchers do more work on these subjects, it’s a win for all female patients suffering from the condition.
Thankfully, there has been a recent push to provide more awareness of the differences in sex in terms of disease progression, as well as the different lived experiences that women encounter in their day-to-day lives. It’s a good start, especially since almost 80 percent of doctors believe that addressing their patients’ social needs is just as important as providing them with medical care, but they often do not feel equipped to do so.
If the medical industry is to provide women with better healthcare services, technology, research, and education are key. Thankfully, we already see great strides, and hopefully, we will continue to do so. Those who hold up half the sky are well worth the effort.