Jun 12, 2023



Men’s Health 2023: Healthcare Behaviors and Attitudes

In recent years, American men have been paying closer attention to their health and healthcare. However, gaps in knowledge are still keeping many of them from accessing the preventive care they need. Here’s how health systems and pharma marketers can help.

In our recent Women’s Health 2023 Special Report, we shared some of the most important healthcare trends for hospital and pharma marketers to keep in mind as they improve connections and care for female patients in the coming year.1 As June is Men’s Health Month, we wanted to take this opportunity to also share some of the insights our research generated into men’s attitudes and behaviors regarding healthcare.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, American men have paid closer attention to their health and healthcare. According to a recent Healthgrades survey, 66% of men are more concerned with their health and wellness than prior to the pandemic, including conducting more extensive online research regarding health conditions (44%) and self-treatment options (40%).2 As a result, most men say they feel more knowledgeable about their overall health than before the pandemic. But while they may be paying closer attention to their health than before, our research illustrates that there are still opportunities for doctors and healthcare marketers to help reduce knowledge gaps and connect male patients to the care they need.

Trends in Men’s Preventive Care Behaviors

Despite men’s increased awareness of health and wellness issues, women statistically take the lead when managing healthcare for their households. Only 42% of men say that they are the primary healthcare manager for their families—most still look to female family members for selecting doctors, scheduling doctors’ appointments, picking up prescriptions, or caring for sick family members.3

At first glance, it seems that the statistical gender discrepancy in household healthcare doesn’t hold true when it comes to men’s personal preventive care: only 37% of men said that they’ve skipped, delayed, or avoided preventive care in the past year, compared with 55% of women. When asked about their reasons for forgoing these visits, men cited forgetting to schedule an appointment (24%), high out-of-pocket costs (21%), doubt that their concerns were serious enough to seek medical care (18%), and fear of receiving bad news or finding a problem (18%).3 

But closer inspection of the data reveals that men’s lower rate of preventive care avoidance may not be as hopeful as it looks. In practice, men and women attend physicals and dental screenings at similar rates (around 50% received this preventative care in the last year), suggesting that men may not think of themselves as skipping care because they are simply unaware of what preventive care measures are recommended for them.3 

Trends in Men’s Attitudes Towards Healthcare

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how many Americans think and feel about their doctors and healthcare systems. Over half of men (56%) say that they’re more concerned with the quality of their healthcare than before the pandemic, leading them to conduct more independent research about treatment options and medical professionals than before, along with reading patient reviews more extensively.2 When it comes to choosing a primary care physician, men want to trust their doctor’s decisions—they want to see that their doctor can clearly explain and answer questions about symptoms, conditions, and care.3

Even though 36% of men said it was initially challenging to find a doctor they trust, most expressed overall trust and confidence in their current healthcare professionals:3

  • 82% agreed that they trust their current primary care doctor 
  • 89% said that they feel confident in communicating with that doctor 
  • 87% believe their doctor takes their opinions seriously.4

Trust in their particular doctors, however, does not necessarily extend to physicians and healthcare systems in the abstract: only 42% of men expressed confidence in the healthcare system as a whole, underscoring the need for doctors and healthcare marketers to be proactive in their outreach and trust-building efforts.3

In recent years, one of the most significant advances in patient-centered healthcare has been the widespread recognition of the value patients feel in having doctors who understand them and share key aspects of their identities. Particularly with gender, a shared identity can foster much greater trust between patients and their doctors—patients who see a doctor of the same gender are significantly more likely to have a doctor they trust completely (83% vs. 73% for those who see a doctor of a different gender).4 

How Hospital and Pharma Marketers Can Better Serve All Patients

Given these changing behaviors and attitudes in men’s healthcare, it’s critical that hospital and pharma marketers respond by connecting with patients where they are and providing them the information and opportunities they need to get the high-quality care they deserve. Here’s how marketers can help men better access care:

Demystify treatment cost information 

While out-of-pocket costs for routine care are generally a greater barrier for women than for men, 20% of men still report delaying care in the past year due to financial concerns.3 Additionally, more than a third of men who received a prescription have, at some point, chosen not to have it filled due to concerns about cost.2 It’s not surprising, then, that large percentages of patients regularly search online for prescription discounts.2

With rising costs, tightening budgets, and so much cost information to process, patients can become confused and overwhelmed. That’s why it’s critical to provide simple, transparent cost information that allows prospective patients to understand precisely what they’ll pay and what care they’ll receive. You can also build trust by directing them to discount platforms, where they can search for coupons that reduce the cost of the prescriptions they rely on.

Show your commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion

As patients and doctors become more aware of the effects of both explicit and unintentional bias in healthcare, healthcare professionals everywhere can benefit from being flexible in their mindset, practices, and outreach to help connect patients with high-quality, personally responsive care. Recruit diverse doctors and staff, then provide prospective patients with the information and tools they need to identify and connect with the professionals best equipped to understand their experience and provide the specific care they need.

Market to women who are the household health decision-makers

Our research for the Women’s Health 2023 Special Report demonstrated that women are the primary decision-makers and managers when it comes to household healthcare. If you’re attempting to reach men and address conditions that commonly affect them, it’s a good idea to have at least some of your marketing strategy aimed at women, since they’re often the ones influencing the care and lifestyle of their families, including selecting doctors, making appointments, reviewing and completing appointment guides, and filling prescriptions. 

Address educational gaps

Sometimes, men are simply unaware of what routine care and health screenings are recommended for their age group. Even when they are aware, some still avoid or delay preventive care out of fear of receiving bad news. Pharma marketers can help close the loop and increase the rate of preventive care by leveraging the empowering educational content in Healthgrades PatientConnect Hubs, which features both patient and physician voices to give your audience the information they need to take action. Remember, it’s important to normalize the process and supply convenient scheduling tools in addition to addressing educational gaps. 

Connect with patients where they’re already looking for care

As mentioned, the COVID-19 pandemic changed how people think about and seek healthcare. Aided by the necessary expansion of digital healthcare tools and platforms, patients are more actively researching their conditions, care, and treatment options. 

Today, two-thirds of all patients say that they check online reviews of doctors they’re considering seeking treatment from, with 28% of men reporting that they always check before scheduling a visit.2 Doctors can claim a profile on Healthgrades to communicate their investment in understanding patient experiences and concerns and leverage the trust-building power of patient reviews

In addition to researching individual doctors, patients are doing more rigorous research on the quality of hospitals and hospital systems. With Healthgrades’ hospital quality awards and ratings, patients can quickly find the best hospitals for the specific care or experience they’re seeking.

As a result of the pandemic, today’s consumers are also more likely to use telehealth services than they were in the past, with one-third of all men indicating that they’re now using telehealth appointments more for routine care and check-ins.2 By providing patients with a convenient online scheduling tool in the same place where they’re researching your services, you can shorten the distance between consideration and conversion and provide your patients with a positive, responsive experience during the initial steps of your relationship.

Addressing Men’s Healthcare Needs to Drive Impactful Conversions

Half of all Americans who see a doctor this year will visit Healthgrades at some point in their healthcare journey.5 By partnering with Healthgrades, you can engage the largest population of commercially-insured, qualified patients searching for care online when they’re ready to take action. 

Solutions for Health Systems

For health systems, we can extend your audience reach and drive more visits than any other third-party site. Premium placement, including prominent branding and CTAs on Healthgrades physician search results pages and physician profiles, ensures consumers see your hospital first. Our competitive intercept feature even redirects appointment opportunities from your competitors by showing alternative options from your health system on competing systems’ profiles. In short, we make it easy for men to find healthcare professionals they trust.

Solutions for Life Sciences

Healthgrades’ digital pharma solutions maximize the impact of your marketing strategy so you can engage your target audience and motivate them to make an appointment. Content and videos featuring real patients and specialists can address the issues that are most important to men while they are researching condition information. Our Guided Physician Search tool, integrated into our best-in-class editorial content and your own website, helps low-funnel consumers find specialists when treatment is top of mind. 

Get in touch with us today to learn how Healthgrades can help you connect with both men and women and guide them to the care they need.

1 Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article uses the terms “women” and “men” to discuss self-reported gender identity and reflects language that appears in source materials. Data is inclusive of transgender respondents. Learn more about the difference between sex and gender.
2 COVID Patient Confidence Pulse Survey, October 2022.
3 Healthgrades Women’s Health Research, July 2022.
4 Infosurv and Healthgrades BIPOC Healthcare Attitudes Study, n=604, July 2022.
5 Healthgrades Site Study, 2022.