The first decade of the Internet was male dominated.
It was a geeky, sometimes difficult to access place, with a focus on sex, games and making or spending money.
But all this is rapidly changing as women take over as primary users of the Internet. We know that men mainly use the Internet as places of entertainment and fun, whereas women tend to use if for interpersonal communication and 念珠菌 learning. At this time of the year advertisers now focus more on women than on men, with marketing tools such as “black Friday” and “cyber Monday,” in the knowledge that women tend to be most influential in family buying decisions, and have now learnt to use the Internet as a buying tool.
But what about healthcare? Unlike the Internet, healthcare has for many years been mainly a female environment and business. Most health providers are female, including 55% of doctors. Most patients are female, with males notoriously less likely to visit their doctor, and most carers are female. Women in their forties and fifties not uncommonly have to look after 3 generations of family members – children, spouses and parents – and sometimes even their grandparents as well as we continue to live longer. We know from surveys that more than 80% of women want to be able to communicate electronically with their doctors. Many of the 80 million women a year who use the Internet for healthcare want to learn more about their and their loved ones health from trusted sites on the Internet, and then discuss these results with the person they trust most with their health issues, their doctor.
Women are very active on social networking sites outside the health environment, but few of these are available to them for healthcare uses. Overall the health industry has been much slower at adapting its online world to the needs of women than have, for instance, retailers, businesses, media groups and educational institutions.
So what should happen?
The health industry has to start thinking more seriously about its major customer, women, and plan its Internet and health information technology strategies with them, as the key customer, in pride of place.
This means that more attention should be directed to using the Internet for communication in healthcare – by email, video conferencing and social networking – to make providers more accessible to patients. There needs to be better educational opportunities for patients and carers, using the massive amount of electronic information now being collected in the nations electronic record systems – where such data could also be used for individual patients to research and compare their treatments with others.
In short, what women want is healthcare on the Internet, anytime, anywhere. The Internet supplies this accessibility in other industries – healthcare needs to catch up with them.