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Gender Disparity in Health Care

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Your Health Deserves More than Seven Minutes

Seven minutes. That’s it. That’s the average length of an appointment with a primary care provider in most practices.

You can do a lot in seven minutes. You can draft an email. Scroll through social media. Do a few push-ups and sit-ups. Run (almost) a mile.

But there’s a lot you can’t do, too. Answering your questions and addressing your concerns about your health falls well outside that seven-minute mark – especially considering how nuanced and complicated women’s health care can be.

The model of primary care is broken

Many of today’s provider – as compassionate and experienced as they may be – aren’t receiving the education or support they need to adequately address women’s health issues, like menopause management, sexual health, migraines, breast cancer assessment, cancer survivorship, heart health, mental health and many other health issues.

Instead, they are facing burdens of large primary care practices, electronic health management and demanding patient loads – often times seeing as many as 28 patients in just one day.

It’s not only the time demands that primary care physicians have to face. It’s the reality that there are very real and significant disparities when it comes to women’s health issues.

Gender disparity in women’s health care

Women’s health care is more than menopause or fertility; breast cancer or menstrual cycles. It’s heart health and diabetes care. It’s reducing the risk of stroke in women or addressing mental health issues, like depression and anxiety (which affect more women than men). It’s helping women understand and control blood pressure and empowering them to talk about their sexual health.

All healthcare is women’s health.

When it comes down to it, biology makes a big difference in the diseases women are likely to have and the symptoms we’ll experience. For years, though, researchers took a “one-size-fits-all” approach to studying diseases and treatments. They figured they could simply apply the learnings from studies focused on men. Consider:

      • The Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging didn’t start including women until 1978
      • The Physicians Health Study, which found that taking low-dose aspirin may decrease your risk of heart disease, including 22,000 men and zero women. It concluded in 1989.
      • A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) looked at 36 clinical trials for cardiovascular disease (CVD) related drugs . They found that while women were appropriately represented in some disease categories, women were under-represented in trials for heart failure, coronary artery disease and acute coronary syndrome/myocardial infarction.

Given this short sampling of a long-held practice in the medical community, it’s no wonder that physicians historically haven’t been aware of the intricacies of women’s health – and the lack of trust between women and their providers.

Elevating care with a new model

Women deserve more attention and focus when it come to their health care needs. That’s exactly what a concierge practice model – like Ms. Medicine – delivers.

Ms. Medicine is not an insurance-based medical provider. Instead, patients pay one annual fee for all your visits. In return, patients can take advantage of a smaller patient panel among doctors – meaning doctors aren’t required to meet rigorous demands of seeing 28 patients in one day or only spending seven minutes with each patient. They see only a handful of patients each day.

Women can have confidence knowing their health care concerns will be heard. Your first visit is one hour – giving you plenty of time to talk openly and honestly about your health without being concerned with your doctor’s schedule. Follow-up appointments are 30 minutes, and when you’re sick you will see your provider the day you call. No waiting days or scrambling to find an urgent care or local clinic to diagnose your illness.

Convenience builds confidence, trust

This access is about much more than convenience. It’s about establishing a relationship with your healthcare provider – and the opportunity for your provider to get to know you.

Women are less likely to share their concerns, fears and questions with their doctors. But, when you know your doctor and your doctor knows you, it’s a lot easier to discuss any worry your have – no matter how big or small.

I often say that these extended appointments allow me to really get to know the women I care for. When I get to know a patient, it’s easier to instinctively know when they’re telling me everything and when they are holding back. It also makes it much easier for women to share something they would normally considering “embarrassing” or “impolite.” In medicine, no topics are taboo or off limits.

At the end of the day, there are many reasons a concierge medicine practice may be right for you. For me, and all our providers, it’s about elevating high-quality, evidence-based, gender-specific care for the women we see in our offices each day.

You deserve it.

Learn more about how we’re closing the gap in gender-specific care. Call us at 513-760-5511 or visit us online.

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