Marketing Hospitals to Women: Lessons From the Tech Industry

Avoiding the pitfalls of gender bias

You’ve likely encountered the stereotype that women aren’t as interested in or as proficient with technology as men. But consider how that stereotype might affect marketing innovative hospital services like e-visits, telemedicine and remote physician video chats. That flawed perception could lead to a gender bias that has a negative effect on your hospital marketing efforts.

We might be wise to take a lesson from the world of technology. It’s a common stereotype that women aren’t early adopters of technology. But when technology company execs make the critical mistake of thinking women aren’t interested in what they offer, they don’t market to them or design for them, so women don’t purchase the products — and tech companies wind up reaffirming their own erroneous belief.

Let’s assess how this mistaken assumption can play out in healthcare. Women make the majority of healthcare decisions for themselves and their families, and women are more engaged in healthcare than men. If we get caught in stereotypes about who uses technology, we fail to see that women’s engagement goes way beyond typical in-office healthcare interactions.

Recent research indicates that women are interested in many kinds of innovative technology offerings in healthcare, including online consultations, remote physician appointments, access to health and wellness coaches, and help with financial navigation and planning. Not only are women open to broader kinds of services, such as holistic health and wellness offerings; they’re also open to new avenues to engage with healthcare. That’s worth considering when we build healthcare marketing plans.

It’s also interesting to consider why women are so receptive to technology solutions in healthcare. If we look at what influences technology purchases, we learn that men and women shop for tech differently. For women, it’s the “product’s potential to improve their lives right away” that inspires purchase.

The same is true for innovative healthcare services. Our focus should be on how these offerings benefit women so we can avoid the stereotypes and pitfalls that have plagued technology marketers. The convenience of remote medical visits or advice is important, but higher-order benefits such as simplifying busy schedules, increasing access to care and, more importantly, helping women feel empowered to get the best care for themselves and their loved ones are benefits we should highlight.

As we’re marketing hospitals to women, let’s do our best to show them how technology simplifies care for our consumers and their families. Perhaps technology companies can follow our lead.

Kathy Selker
I’m Kathy Selker. My work as CEO of Northlich, a Cincinnati-based healthcare marketing agency, has taught me a great deal about how hospitals and health systems can best connect with women to make the most positive impact in their lives.
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