In a trend that has only accelerated during the past few decades, the needs and perspectives of women in regard to health and well-being have come into heightened focus within the healthcare industry.

Historically, disease and treatment research focused on the male body. In the latter half of the 20th century when researching specific medical conditions, professionals began to notice that the physiological and behavioral differences that exist between sexes affect the health and outcomes of each differently. It is now clear, for instance, that a woman’s unique hormonal characteristics affect disease progression and the reactions they have to certain drug treatment regimens. Heart disease symptoms might present through chest pain in men but cause nausea, back or jaw pain in women. Even women of different races have unique and varied healthcare needs and concerns.

In essence, we’ve come to understand that only by viewing the issues pertaining to well-being and a person’s health condition through their individual sex, gender and ethnic perspective can we properly prevent, diagnose and treat their condition to produce the best outcomes. For women, this is leading to improved overall well-being, more focused and appropriate health care treatments and an enhanced potential to save lives.

Top Concerns for Women Today

For women, the COVID-19 pandemic has only served to heighten and add to their growing list of health care concerns. Finding safe and affordable methods of contraception during this time remains a priority for women today. Mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, exhibit more frequently among women than men and have traditionally been found to be exasperated by a woman’s hormonal fluctuations. More recently, however, COVID induced realities have compounded this growing concern as stresses for those women already juggling a multitude of work and home responsibilities have increased with their role as teacher for any children at home in virtual learning environments. Adding further pressure for these mothers during the current pandemic has been the need to find safe, accessible and affordable childcare and health care services for their children. And researchers remain baffled at why even prior to the pandemic, autoimmune diseases have continued to escalate in frequency and affect more women than men.

Trending Women’s Issues

Additionally, as a result of changes that have been developing over many years, the following trends are shaping women’s health care today and having an impact on insurance services, healthcare premiums and the workplace environment:

  • Women are having fewer babies and often delay giving birth until later in life
  • Later-age pregnancies carry increased complexities, driving up costs and putting both mother and baby at risk
  • Fertility services continue to increase, with many employers expanding benefits in this area
  • Women are working longer as their life expectancy continues to increase
  • An aging women’s population has driven an increased demand for midlife services

As funding for research in these areas continues to accelerate, the evolution of women’s health trends and medical care continues. Information acquired through research has filtered down among all aspects of the healthcare industry, changing the way doctors, hospitals and insurance carriers service and care for women patients. Technology by means of connected devices and mobile applications will continue to expand the healthcare solutions available to women. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, at-home testing devices, telehealth integration, remote monitoring platforms and other innovative care models have become more widely accepted and will play a critical role in providing women with access to necessary healthcare.

Employers too have begun to focus more on women-specific needs by incorporating more targeted benefits into their wellness programs and plan offerings. Additionally, business leaders have recognized that women, both as employees and spouses of employees, are key to the maintenance of a healthy family, as they tend to be the decision makers regarding all health-related matters for themselves and their families. As such, communications and enrollment processes have been more effectively designed to better accommodate these female perspectives, interests and personal needs.

Today there are many opportunities for a variety of concerned entities to address the unique health care challenges facing women. With continued research, increases in funding and other critical resources committed to this task, much more will be accomplished to improve the overall health of women in the years ahead.

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