The Urgent Care Center May Be The Key To Bringing Men Into The Healthcare System

GiraffeI’ve worked in the healthcare arena for the past two decades and one of the pervasive problems affecting hospitals, primary care physicians and the rest of the healthcare industry can be summarized in one question: How do we encourage more men to play an active role in their health?

In a blog I wrote recently that was just published in FierceHealthcare, “Healthcare marketing trend: Is the urgent care center finally the perfect remedy for men?,” I shared more of the anthropological research that my firm, Simon Associates, has done on Urgent Care Centers (discussed in earlier blog posts). Specifically in this blog, I focus on insights pertaining to men.

Helping men get and stay healthy is a tall order

Here are a few of the challenges that healthcare professionals continue to experience in convincing men to take care of themselves:

  • As I have noted in a past “Trends From The Trenches” webinar, only 60 percent of men have primary care doctors. On average, men die five to 10 years earlier than women, and a whopping 40 percent of men have high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, cancer or diabetes or a combination of these.
  • A 2013 survey by the American Academy of Family Physicians revealed that 55 percent of U.S. men haven’t seen their physician in the past year.

Research on UCCs: Men take center stage

Given the issues with men and healthcare, we were naturally shocked and delighted when we noticed something profound with our preliminary UCC studies: Nearly everyone we talked to at a UCC was a man. As I mention in the FierceHealth article, in all of my time working with healthcare clients, male patients have never been in the majority of a random, gender-neutral study. Not until now.

Reasons why men go to UCCs rather than PCPs and EDs

The majority of men we talked to during our research did not:

  • Currently have PCPs
  • Want referrals from UCCs to make follow-up appointments with PCPs
  • Think that PCPs were necessary as long as they could get quick, high-quality, convenient fixes to their problems at UCCs
  • Want to go through the hassle of making an appointment with a PCP or endure the long wait times at emergency departments

These early insights could lead to new, innovative marketing

While men, at least compared to women, are still hesitant to embrace their own healthcare, they do seek out UCCs when they’re really feeling sick. Further, the lack of research on both men and UCCs (other than ours) signals a sweet spot for potential innovation opportunities.

If what we’re seeing is accurate, UCCs could truly surge ahead by pursuing more men (and the women who influence them) with laser-targeted marketing campaigns. More to come!

To read my FierceHealthcare article in full, please click here.