Women’s post-pandemic health contrasts sharply with men’s, new CVS health study finds

CVS Health 2022 Healthcare Study finds that American female consumers are highly interested in engaging health care providers in discussions about their holistic health, mental health, and physical health goals, although post-pandemic women struggle more with mental health, anxiety and achieving their health goals than men.

The study, conducted with 1,000 U.S. consumers and 400 healthcare providers, reveals changing consumer opinions about a post-pandemic healthcare industry, how consumers view their own well-being and what consumers define as an ideal caregiving experience. According to the report, coordination and communication are the two watchwords of a new generation of health care.

“Women are the chief physicians of their families, leading the way in the choice of physicians for their children, ensuring that family members receive recommended care, and serving as primary caregivers to parents and aging children. However, women often face equity barriers when trying to achieve their own health goals. We need to improve women’s access to care and remove the systematic barriers that prevent them from leading healthy lives,” says Joanne Armstrong, who is vice president and medical director, Women’s Health and Genomics at CVS Health.

Building lasting relationships between consumers and physicians

More than ever, according to study, consumers want to build lasting relationships with their doctors and other providers and have meaningful conversations about their health. As people embrace post-pandemic lifestyle changes as essential parts of overall health, they want providers to know about these changes and advise them on additional steps they can take to improve their health.

Research has shown that patients generally have a high degree of trust in their providers, including primary care physicians, nurses, pharmacists and others, and in addition they are increasingly seeking support and advice on medication adherence, mental health needs and other areas. . This is especially true for more vulnerable patient populations like the elderly and those with chronic conditions, many of whom have comorbidities and often take multiple medications. Quick and easy connections with providers via phone calls, text messages and other virtual means are highly valued by patients.

As far as consumers are concerned, whether their objective is to reduce their level of daily stress or to increase their general well-being, 85% of women believe that it is important for their treating physician to be aware of their level of stress and their ability to deal with difficult emotions and 83% said it was important for their primary care physician to be aware of any type of health goals they might have, compared to 75% of men who felt it was important. Interestingly, only 16% of women described progress toward health goals as “meaningful,” while 31% of men shared the same statement.

Good mental health is one of the top priorities for women

Women often carry more emotional burdens and stressors than men when it comes to their health and the health of those around them. The good news is that women tend to be more open about using mental health services and identifying when someone else may be having mental health issues.

But women, more often than men, have personal health issues and anxiety issues, and therefore have a harder time achieving their health goals. Women may be more receptive to mental health services because they struggled more with mental health issues, reporting higher levels of stress over the past 12 months compared to men.

Notably, CVS Health research found women, compared to men, tend to be more receptive to mental health and behavioral health. Four in ten women (40%) versus more than one in four men (28%) say they would use or accept recommendations from a mental/behavioural health specialist.

“As more and more women embrace the connection between mind and body, they recognize that ‘health’ and ‘healthcare’ are intertwined,” shares Cara McNulty, DPA, President, Behavioral Health and mental wellness, CVS Health. There is therefore a key opportunity for providers to work more closely with patients to ensure that their mental health needs and desires are properly addressed and effectively communicated.

Despite this, more men than women say they are successful in achieving their health goals. Therefore, there is considerable room for improvement in supporting women throughout their healthcare journey and providing them with the support they need to achieve their goals.

“COVID-19 has sparked a global health crisis and ongoing conversations about mental health, civil rights and more,” adds McNulty. “All of this has caused a lot of daily and long-term stress for people. Changing public health guidelines regarding pandemic measures and societal issues such as poverty, climate change and civil rights were also sources of stress for the majority of respondents. More than ever, we need to ensure that consumers have access to supportive, non-judgmental mental health care and services. »

Luckily, women are keen to seek help from their doctor for whatever they may be going through personally due to the pandemic. And more women than men are choosing to prioritize their post-pandemic health and wellness needs.

“According to our research, women tend to express different holistic health needs than men,” says Armstrong. “For example, women say they are more stressed about money and more concerned about the health of those around them than men. More women reported high or moderate stress in the past 12 months regarding household finances, as well as stress felt due to the physical health of family members and loved ones. These findings indicate that providers need to be particularly aware of the mental and emotional challenges faced by women and work together to ensure that all aspects of well-being are addressed.

Coordinated and synchronized care

The to research found that 88% of providers wish they had more time to spend and care for patients with complex illnesses. A majority of physicians (61%) also noted that access to specialist care for patients with certain complex conditions had a high to moderate impact on their ability to achieve desired outcomes.

That’s why new models of care that offer in-person, virtual, and home care options, supported by seamless data sharing and coordinated by physician-led teams, are the future. Patients also recognize that this kind of care coordination is essential for better experiences and better outcomes. In fact, 83% of consumers said coordination between all healthcare providers is very or somewhat important to their health. Similarly, 85% of consumers say it is important for their primary care provider to be aware of their prescription medications prescribed by other health care providers, while 83% of consumers say it is important that their primary care provider is aware of the other physicians they see and their diagnoses and recommendations.

Most people want their medical information digitized and that information available to their providers.

Convenience, accessibility and cost are key factors shaping healthcare experience and outcomes

Survey respondents view convenience, accessibility and cost as key factors shaping their healthcare experience and outcomes. Virtual care options are valuable because consumers want to receive medical care on their own terms. Almost all consumers (92%) say convenience is an important factor when choosing their primary care provider, with more than one in three (37%) having scheduled a virtual visit to save money or time .

Healthcare providers say virtual options are helping more patients stick to their care plans, and most (53%) say adding virtual care options has led to an increase in patient visits . Virtual care visits also allow patients to talk about difficult topics like mental health issues, depression or addiction issues in a more intimate and convenient way, with 48% of consumers saying they are likely to seek out mental health if a virtual visit is available.

This year Health Care Outlook Study clearly shows that consumers depend on their providers and doctors as sources of reliable information in an environment of uncertainty. The study findings also show that healthcare delivery must evolve into a coordinated, accessible, convenient and affordable part of daily life – especially for underserved and vulnerable populations.

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