Andrea Simon, Ph.D., principal and founder of Simon Associates Management Consultants (SAMC) has recently written an article examining how men represent a vast unexploited market in today’s healthcare industry. The article, “Men: Untapped market waiting for a hospital just like yours,” is currently being featured by the medical industry website, FierceHealthcare.
Dr. Simon’s article presents hospitals with an interesting market growth opportunity, as most marketers focus on women as the primary healthcare decision-makers while almost completely ignoring men.
“Are men and men’s health part of your hospital or healthcare system’s growth strategy? Should they be?,” asks Dr. Simon.
She then shares a case study of Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Mich. to illustrate how men’s health desperately needs to be paid attention to, and how a number of benefits occur when this happens.
When Dr. Simon’s firm, Simon Associates, dove into a wealth of research from the Men’s Health Network in Washington, D.C., they discovered that more than 90% of women have physicians but only 62% of men do.
In addition, more than half (55%) of all men studied by the American Academy of Family Physicians in 2007 had not seen their primary care physician for a physical exam within the past year. Worse is that across the United States, men die from five years to 10 years younger than women.
Doctors focus on women
According to Dr. Simon’s article, what is equally interesting is that the experience of visiting a physician’s office is geared toward women. Men report that going to the doctor makes them feel “weak and unmanly.”
New growth strategy awaits you
Given these statistics and cultural biases, what can a hospital or a physician do to grow a patient base of men?
Dr. Simon reports that Hurley Medical Center’s strategy was to create a Men’s Health Initiative consisting of a series of men’s breakfasts, workshops and church events where they could get screenings, meet with physicians, and learn how to get healthy and stay that way. Hurley also organized a very successful Men’s Health Fest filled with sporting events, contests and an all-day appearance by local football star and Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram. The hospital focused on how to make getting healthy easier, simpler and more fun for men — a healthcare strategy designed around them.
Begin in the community
At Hurley Medical Center, the community was critical to get men engaged, particularly African-American men. Dr. Simon writes that to successfully engage men in their healthcare, you must reach them where they like to hang out: barber shops, sports clubs, churches.
Dr. Simon challenges hospital administrators to use fresh eyes to “see” men in their community as a big target audience with unmet needs waiting for someone to tailor their healthcare delivery system to them. “All it needs is for someone to get started,” she states.
To read Dr. Simon’s article in its entirety on FierceHealthcare, click here.
Andrea J. Simon, Ph.D., is a former Marketing, Branding and Culture Change VP at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Mich. A corporate anthropologist, she also is president and CEO of Simon Associates Management Consultants.