The Gender Strategy, Why Understanding Women Matters – Five Key Takeaways From The MedtechWomen Event

When bringing new technology to market, we as medtech marketers frequently follow a product development plan, that shows a progression from understanding the market, the customers and their adoption tendencies (i.e. early to latent), and the head/tail winds that could impact market adoption and acceleration. Historically, and generally speaking, these robust development plans have had little, if any, segmentation strategies around the “target patient” much beyond said patient being the end beneficiary of the new medical technology.

Our work as medtech marketers is changing however, as technology adoption decisions expand beyond the specialized physician to a compendium of decisions makers with equal weight including: the health system, payer and now consumers who are increasingly demanding more transparency regarding costs and in turn being more thoughtful and informed about health decisions.

Given that women account for 80% of all healthcare purchases and 90% of all healthcare decisions for her and her family, it makes sense for Medtech companies to better understand this audience and segment them similarly to that of the physician customer when thinking about adoption barriers and accelerators.

At W2O Group, we are dedicated to helping medtech companies thrive in this new world order of technology and transparency through the use of targeted analytics that help us critically understand audience behavior and in turn, supports the development of targeted strategies to reach them. This fundamental belief is why it was an honor to be invited to share my perspective among an esteemed panel at MedtechWomen’s ‘The Gender Strategy: Why Understanding Women Matters,’ regional event last week that brought together more than 50+ industry colleagues and influential women leaders in the Minneapolis area for a night of conversation and networking.

As we tackled the gender topic – it was fascinating to have a panel that consisted of inputs from across the spectrum including: understanding the Market (women as healthcare consumer), the Customer (Physician) and The Care Provider (Health System).

Here are key facts and five key takeaways from the discussion:


Understanding Women and Healthcare & Market Power

  • U.S. women generate $4.3T of earned annual income
  • Patients are bearing more of the expenses + women account for 80% of all healthcare purchases
  • Nine out of 10 women are seeking healthcare information online and 72% in social media forums
  • Women account for 90% of all healthcare decisions for her and her family

#1 One size doesn’t fit all – Women are different and complex at all life stages

Understanding life stages and what is critically important to women throughout their lifetime becomes critical to targeting this audience. Once you understand their life stage and their sphere of influence during this life stage, you can then more predictably anticipate and modify behavior.

Women in their 20s-30s: Focused on their education, career, finding a life partner; Are usually caught off guard if they need surgery or have other serious health issues

Women in their 30s-40s: Focused on pregnancies; Tend to start seeking out opinions from medical providers; Starting to focus on their own health more but are typically risk adverse at this time in life

Women in their 50s-60’s: More secure with who they are; Have learned from life events and are more focused on their own health; More willing to accept guidance from medical providers

#2: Women search for their symptoms, not for medical device technology. 

Moreover, women actually search “in question.”  This is a key as you think about medtech marketing programs aimed at reaching women as consumer.  Companies that observe the language their target female patients use by watching them in their online “natural habitat” and in turn mimics that language back will win in reaching and most critically, connecting with the targeted patient. Ask yourself, not what am I selling to her, but what symptoms am I solving for her?

#3: Women are the gatekeepers to the healthcare organization. 

In their role as “Chief Medical Officer” of a household, women can bring an entire family into a health system. Therefore, capturing their business is key. As you plan an approach to your ‘health system’ customer – appealing to understand who the key decision maker (the female) in where she and her family seek healthcare will become increasingly more critical in our future state of care delivery.

Research shows that women want:

Care: women want quality care and more service offerings

Comfort: new program with comfort taken into consideration will be powerful influences in the decision tree; i.e. offering warm robes vs. paper sheets at an OBGYN visit matters!

Convenience: ways to make health delivery easier – including off-hour appointments and weekend care

Community: understanding the barriers – as an example, transportation, that you can unlock to get patients the care their need

#4: Women care most about what their friends say – regardless of what their doctor says.

Educating physicians about new medical technology will always be critical to medtech adoption  – but understanding the patient’s sphere of influence is equally critical to successful adoption as provider is no longer the only ‘voice’ in the decision tree.

#5: Stop talking and start listening to all stakeholders.

As stated in the beginning of this post, launching new and disruptive technologies has always had an adoption formula attached. Today, in a digital first, always on environment, as expenses increase both for patient and provider, and decision making expands – the complexities of how we go to market has and will continue to change. By spending more time listening to what your market needs – by listening to them – in person, and more easily, online – you may very well be surprised at the AHA moment you might find that can accelerate your success.

I’d like to extend thanks to the panelists and the women that attended the event. Being a part of the conversation among such a talented and diverse group of women was amazing. Special acknowledgement and thanks to the panelists:

Dr. Beth Elfstrand an esteemed OB/GYN who has spent the last 23 years in private practice at John A Haugen Associates in Minneapolis, Edina, and Plymouth

Andrea Winter, Senior Director, Women’s and Children’s Strategy, Park Nicollet Health Services, where she oversees strategic business development of the ObGyn department and its sub specialties focusing on enhancing the quality of care and experience for the female patients throughout the organization and our moderator;

Linnea Burman, Vice President and General Manager, Pelvic Health, Medtronic plc

About MedtechWomen: an organization dedicated to highlighting women leaders in the medical technology industry. Its focus is on providing opportunities to come together to discuss constructive solutions to key issues facing the medtech industry today. For more information about MedTech Women, visit www.medtechwomen.org

Angela Gillespie
Angela Gillespie
Chief Strategy Officer, Global Medtech Practice
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