The Future Of Women’s Health: Connected And Equitable Care In A Digital World

Jul 25,2022

Read Time 4 Minutes

Women’s healthcare is much broader than routine tests like yearly mammograms or checkups during pregnancy. It involves understanding women’s unique health needs, how they engage with the healthcare system, and how they are treated as consumers.  Given that women account for almost 56.8% of the U.S. workforce, a focus on women’s health is critical.

Women are typically the “chief medical officers” of their homes, leading healthcare decisions for themselves and their partners, children, and parents. This presents an opportunity for employers and insurers to elevate how women interact with their healthcare — specifically through access to digitally enabled whole-person health solutions.


Women’s Health Needs And Integrated Care Trends


There are several health conditions unique to biological females, including pregnancy, menstruation, endometriosis, labor and childbirth, pelvic floor disorders, ovarian and cervical cancers, and menopause. Certain conditions also present more frequently in women than men, such as osteoporosis, breast cancer, autoimmune diseases, strokes, urinary tract infections, chronic fatigue syndrome, and migraines.


In the United States, almost 90% of women are at risk of at least one chronic condition. Digital health tools can be leveraged to reduce the alarmingly high rates of chronic condition. Women are more likely to see their primary care doctors and specialists, undergo diagnostic services, and utilize resources to address mental health concerns.


This presents an opportunity for employers to respond to women's specific health needs with integrated, digitally enabled care. Aside from positives like improving employee satisfaction and retention, increasingly personalized support can help women better manage their health and potentially drive lower organizational costs of care.


The Effects Of Gender Bias And Inequality


Women’s risk factors are often compounded by the effects of gender inequality and gender bias in healthcare. For women and girls, this means their care could be affected by reduced access to critical health services, a lack of decision-making autonomy, limited access to finances, lower literacy rates, or provider discrimination.


Care providers can also struggle with the impact of gender identity on inclusive healthcare. While doctors understand gender identity as more than a biological label of “boy” or “girl” at birth, many underestimate the challenges, judgments, or biases involved with gender fluidity and a patient’s subsequent healthcare needs.


Whether intended or not, our world and healthcare system have historically marginalized the medical concerns of women, LGBTQIA+ people, transgender individuals, and people of color, affecting health outcomes for these populations.


The Power Of Digital Healthcare And What It Means For Employers


Digital health solutions are one important way employers can support women’s access to more equitable care. Insurers like Anthem are advancing women’s health by leveraging data-driven insights to create digital solutions that are not only cost-effective, but also personal and customized. 


Anthem collaborates extensively with doctors and care providers to examine an individual’s whole-health picture. This means evaluating additional factors that could potentially influence health outcomes — things like social drivers of health, health equality, and community health. 


Addressing social and community-related barriers can help ensure inclusive care delivery across gender, race, and ethnicities, provide improved maternal health and behavioral healthcare, and combat social drivers like access to nutritious food. This approach becomes even more powerful — especially as a tool for employers — when combined with digitally enabled care.


One example is Anthem’s SydneySM Health app, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to provide personalized health recommendations and seamlessly connect users to health plan resources, ID cards, and claims information. The app’s robust features include digital condition-management support, nutrition tracking and weight management tools, access to local community resources, mental health resources, and help to determine costs for medical procedures. 


Sydney can also connect users to virtual care center visits, providing access to healthcare anytime and anywhere, removing barriers like transportation to see a doctor. Additionally, employees now have the option to self-identify their gender preference in the Sydney app, giving them the ability to add a preferred name and designation of birth sex.


Anthem is working to advance maternal health for women and families, promoting equitable access to care during every stage of pregnancy. Robust digital programs and resources are being rolled out to better support behavioral health and chronic conditions like cancer — all in a virtual environment.


Digital solutions are the future of healthcare. By advocating for more empathetic, personalized, and meaningful care for women, employers can promote health equity and help eliminate healthcare disparities. What’s more, these changes could lead to improved employee satisfaction, better health outcomes, increased productivity, and lower care costs for your organization — a win for all.


Sydney Health is offered through an arrangement with Carelon Digital Platforms, a separate company offering mobile application services on behalf of your health plan.