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Aug 24, 2022

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Five Trends Impacting Patients Seeking Ob-Gyn Services

Are you looking to connect with patients in need of Ob-Gyn services? Here are five trends to watch that will affect how patients search for a specialist.

Recent legislative measures and pervasive social stigmas have transformed how cisgender women, transgender men, and nonbinary people access Ob-Gyn services, making it more challenging for patients to find the care they need. To provide these patients with the high-quality care they deserve, health systems marketers must keep up with current healthcare trends and prepare for what’s to come. Here are five crucial trends marketers should be aware of as they shape how patients access obstetrical and gynecological care.

1. Reproductive Health Options Have Become Less Accessible

Since the United States Supreme Court recently overturned Roe v. Wade, access to abortion has been restricted or banned in half of all states. In turn, this has increased demand for contraceptives to prevent unplanned pregnancies while also detrimentally shifting abortion care to the private sphere in areas where it’s illegal.

As a result, women and trans men will re-prioritize their reproductive and sexual health and invariably choose health systems where Ob-Gyn services are more accessible. This is especially true in the case of contraceptives. According to researchers, 19 million people in need of contraception live in “contraceptive deserts” where clinics near them lack sufficient resources. 

Health systems marketers can help these patients remain in control of their reproductive health by providing open, honest, and transparent access to healthcare information. Curating detailed, relevant, and medically-reviewed content will help inform patients of what steps to take should they encounter reproductive issues. Also, making it easier for patients to communicate directly with doctors and ask questions goes a long way to supporting women and trans men during this difficult time.

2. Women Continue to Make the Most Healthcare Decisions

A recent Healthgrades study found that 67 percent of women and 70 percent of women with children at home report they are the primary managers of their household’s healthcare-related activities. Eighty-two percent of women reported they’re responsible for scheduling appointments, and 77 percent care for sick family members at home, compared to 61 and 52 percent of men, respectively. Women’s role as the chief healthcare officer of their families is particularly evident when selecting primary care doctors and specialists. Seventy-four percent of women surveyed said they play this role compared to just 46 percent of men. 

To best optimize outreach strategies, health systems marketers should be wary of what these patients are searching for and align their engagement points accordingly. For example, does your health system provide the latest information and treatment options for conditions that women might be searching for, like endometriosis or uterine fibroids? Try partnering with a third-party site to advertise your brand alongside relevant healthcare content for organic engagement. Also, be sure to promote your medical team’s experience with specific facets of Ob-Gyn care.

3. Trans Men Are Avoiding Gynecological Care

Unfortunately, trans men face social discrimination across many areas of their lives, including healthcare. A small-scale survey among trans men based in Miami found that 56 percent of respondents delayed or avoided gynecological care altogether for fear of being judged or mistreated, despite 71 percent agreeing that it was essential to receive such care regularly.

Gynecological care is extremely important for trans men undergoing gender-affirming hormonal treatment but have not had top or bottom surgeries. Trans men can still develop breast, cervical, ovarian, and uterine cancer and can still get pregnant, making annual check-ups essential. Marketers should understand these unique needs while outlining what their health system is doing to ensure that their staff is committed to equitable and inclusive care. 

OutCare, for example, is a non-profit that offers healthcare equity and competency training to help medical professionals improve their knowledge, skills, and strategies regarding LGBTQ+ care. A one-hour training session leads to a 50 percent increase in competency, a 150 percent increase in preparedness, and a 133 percent increase in knowledge. Publicize these training efforts and encourage physicians to include badges or certificates on their profiles. These steps can help LGBTQ+ patients feel safe, secure, and empowered when choosing an Ob-Gyn.  

4. Women Are Having Children Later in Life

More women are postponing motherhood today than in recent years, and in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and reproductive health legislation, this trend could extend into the near future. According to CDC research, in 2020, birth rates for mothers between ages 15 and 44 continued to decline, while mothers between the ages of 40 and 44 were the only age group to experience a plateau. Since 2019, birth rates for teenage mothers declined by 8 percent, birth rates for mothers aged 20-29 fell by 5 percent, and birth rates for mothers aged 30-39 declined by 2 percent.

Meanwhile, birth rates for mothers aged 40-44 remained virtually unchanged since 2019, after experiencing a steady increase since 1981. Unfortunately, the risk of pregnancy-related complications increases significantly with age, and it’s worth developing an obstetrics outreach strategy that emphasizes your OB team’s experience with high-risk pregnancies and deliveries. Tailoring relevant advertisements for your practice and crafting helpful medical articles that target this niche group will engage these patients as they progress in their pregnancy and ultimately build their trust in your practice’s expertise.

5. Stigmas Regarding Gynecological Health Remain Prevalent

While topics such as menstruation, sexual health, and vaginal care are more openly discussed than in previous years, many women and trans men still feel uncomfortable seeking help for issues related to their reproductive or sexual health. In a 2021 Thinx poll among 1,010 teenage students who menstruate, 76 percent agreed that periods carry a negative association, with 83 percent of students hiding their menstrual products when going to the restroom.

By publishing educational content about gynecological conditions and helpful treatment tips, health system marketers can help these patients become more knowledgeable about the topics they find difficult to bring up while encouraging them to take charge of their health. This way, patients can build trust with your health system and feel comfortable enough to book an appointment with your specialists to discuss their concerns and ask follow-up questions.

Showcase Your Ob-Gyn Services with Healthgrades

It’s become more challenging for patients requiring Ob-Gyn services to find and receive the care they need due to recent social and political events. Trans men bear the highest risk of health issues as they bypass annual visits to avoid discrimination and prejudice, and lingering stigmas make patients feel ashamed about disclosing health issues. By partnering with Healthgrades, you can help those seeking Ob-Gyn care find care with confidence.

Healthgrades’ health systems advertising solutions can help you tap into the largest audience of commercially insured patients searching for care online. Advertising on Healthgrades drives more qualified visits than any other third-party site, and premium branded ad placement on healthgrades.com physician search results pages and provider profiles extends your audience reach. As our partner, consumers looking for a new Ob-Gyn or information about their reproductive or sexual health will see your health system first.

Quality is also paramount for patients seeking Ob-Gyn care. A Healthgrades analysis between 2018-2020 shows that high-rated hospitals significantly reduce the risk of complications during gynecological procedures.1 For instance, patients who had hysterectomies at hospitals with a 5-star rating on Healthgrades had a 65.1 percent lower risk of encountering complications compared to those who received the procedure at a 1-star hospital. If your hospital has a stellar obstetrics and gynecology department, you should actively promote licensed awards to draw in patients searching for those services.

Contact us today to learn more about how Healthgrades quality and advertising solutions can help patients entrust their reproductive and sexual health to your health system.

1 Healthgrades 2022 Obstetrics and Gynecology Statistics Booklet. Statistics calculated from United States Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Division of Vital Statistics, Natality public-use data on CDC WONDER Online Database, for years 2018 – 2020 available February 2023.