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Gender and healthcare decision making: who’s really calling the shots?

It’s generally agreed that women make the big decisions when it comes to healthcare. And indeed, research shows that more than 78 percent of women consider themselves the primary healthcare decision maker for their household. What might surprise you, however, is that the same survey showed that 71 percent of men also claim the same status.

Starting at age 23, the majority of women report being the primary healthcare decision maker for their families. The majority of men reach that same self-reported status at age 25. And, while men are slightly less likely than women to report having utilized a hospital in the previous three years, they are at higher risk for a wide variety of conditions including heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes. The bottom line: if your marketing efforts are targeted exclusively or even primarily at women, you may be missing important opportunities.

The manly facts

So what do you need to know about men and their healthcare decision making? For starters, they’re less familiar with their hospitals. They also have a lower overall preference for any given provider and are less price-sensitive when choosing a hospital. And yet, men have stronger feelings of loyalty toward their top-of-mind hospitals–indicating a potential opportunity for providers to speak to and develop long-term relationships with male patients.

Man-speak 101

If you’re looking to adapt your marketing strategy to target more men, you’ll want to include Web and TV advertising in the mix. When asked about their preferred method for receiving information about hospitals, men showed a slightly higher preference than women for these two forms of advertising. And, seeing as men are less familiar with hospitals than women, you’re likely to run into fewer preconceived notions about your organization.

The bottom line

It all boils down to this: Men are making independent care decisions, and if you’re ignoring them in your marketing strategy, then you’re ignoring a population segment representing an untapped opportunity for engagement.

Market Insights data can help you learn more about who your target audiences are and how they make decisions. Click here to learn more about Market Insights

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