Think of the last time you went to the gynecologist or obstetrician. Chances are it could have been a bit more comfortable.
Women’s health procedures and tools were rarely designed with the comfort of the patient in mind. With younger generations having more candid conversations about women’s health, the health and wellness industry has begun to take patient comfort more seriously.
Women’s health brands have built communities centered around the patient. The focus has expanded from just effective results to creating an environment where the patient also feels understood and supported. Many brands (like Tia, Health in Her Hue, & twentyeight) have focused their energy on addressing the needs of the whole patient in their communities—armed with the knowledge that many feel uncomfortable in traditional medical environments.
As healthcare marketers, it’s our job to anticipate consumer’s healthcare needs. We need to understand how the patient thinks and what the patient wants in order to better advise our clients.
We make progress every day, but improvement is always possible. So, what’s still missing?
The 3rd Eye’s Insights & Intelligence team honed in on 4 women’s health procedures that could use a little zhuzh.
Let’s talk about Pap smears
If you’re a woman who’s entered adulthood, you’re familiar with Pap smears. The life-saving, albeit uncomfortable, yearly screening to test for cervical cancer.
Many of us know we should be getting regular Pap smears, but shudder at the thought of stirrups—which can be especially painful and uncomfortable for women with mobility issues.
Sometimes we get so used to the standard that we forget: the experience may not be working for everybody.
What can we do?
We can arm the consumer with knowledge.
A study found that performing Pap smears with or without stirrups didn’t affect the outcome of the procedure. Your doctor might advise to keep stirrups for other exams where stability will affect the results—but “a simple Pap test may be no problem to perform when a woman’s legs are not in the stirrups” (Doheny 2006). Patients should know that the option exists and that they can ask for it.
Knowing that stirrups won’t be a part of the equation may very well calm many women’s anxieties related to discomfort when booking the procedure.
Mammograms are an important tool in detecting cancer—but we also know they can be uncomfortable. The traditional methods cause pain and discomfort, and are often difficult to endure.
HealthyWomen conducted a survey where they found that:
What can we do?
Traditional mammograms are not designed for women’s comfort, but not everyone knows this.
Women’s Health brands: tell your patients about alternative mammogram systems to help ensure they don’t avoid the procedure altogether. And better yet, continue to innovate—so the women’s health field can truly become patient-first!
With pelvic exams, comes the speculum: a cold and clinical tool.
The top word that 60% of women use to describe pelvic exams is “uncomfortable”—so it’s not surprising that the mere mention of this tool evokes discomfort.
“Comfort issues are the reason 24% of women aged 18-65 who have ever had a pelvic exam have skipped pelvic exams” (Harris Poll).
Like mammograms, the discomfort can be enough to deter women from getting examined at all!
What can we do?
Companies like CEEK Women’s Health have already taken the steps to update this technology. They’ve developed more speculum options that make pelvic exams more comfortable.
Consumers should know these options exist, and they should feel empowered to ask their doctor for them. As healthcare brands and marketers, we have the opportunity to empower them.
We’ve talked about a few different procedures and tools that make up gynecologist visits—but what about the visits themselves?
Just the thought of one can easily fill a woman with dread.
Dr. Stewart, a gynecologist, asked his patients for tips on redesigning his office, and the results reveal the pain points women have with gynecologist visits. These suggestions stood out:
- More diverse imagery around the office
- Warmers on the stirrups
- Adjustable thermostats in patient rooms
- Equipment and gowns in the largest sizes
- Ceiling lifts for people who can’t get on exam tables by themselves
- Multiple waiting rooms; in consideration for patients struggling with infertility
What does this tell us? The icy and impersonal environment is especially taxing when it comes to intimate health. Simple adjustments like blankets or leg warmers could go a long way in resolving that without disrupting the clinical environment.
What else? Some patients were feeling isolated by standard options. Let’s ensure we’re considering the needs of patients with mobility issues, larger bodies, or coming from disenfranchised communities—and not assume everyone is the same.
What can we do?
Well, we can take a page from Dr. Stewart’s book. You could just take the recommendations I just gave above—but your community might have different needs.
As a health and wellness brand or marketer, there are more pointed questions we need to be asking. Which communities are you serving? And how do you accommodate them—specifically?
As a women-owned agency with 25 years in health & wellness advertising, the team at The 3rd Eye knows what we’re talking about when it comes to women’s health—and can help you identify how to better respond to your community’s needs.
Are you a women’s health brand looking to better serve your patients? Connect with us here.