Women’s health has taken center stage in 2017, but not necessarily for positive reasons. As healthcare policies continue to be debated in Washington, essential healthcare benefits for women are in jeopardy, including prenatal and maternity care, mammograms, and birth control.
As National Women’s Health Week, it’s an apt time to promote, not demote, women’s health. National Women’s Health Week, led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health, serves as a time to advocate for women to make their health a priority. The annual campaign encourages women to improve their health, including regularly visiting a doctor, adhering to a healthy diet, exercising, and prioritizing mental health.
At Healthify, we echo the importance of women’s health and believe all women should have access to affordable and quality healthcare. However, to truly promote women’s health for all women, we have to go further than simply encouraging a healthy lifestyle and a visit to the doctor.
A woman’s health is highly dependent on many social determinants, including income, education, employment, social connections, community, and safety. And, in many cases, women are at a disadvantage compared with men, as they are more likely to be unemployed or work part-time, be paid less, and live in poverty. On top of that, women still bear the heavier burden when it comes to caring for children.
Because of these factors, many women face barriers to improving their health. They cannot afford healthy food; they cannot make it to the doctor because of work, transportation, or childcare; exercise may be out of the question without access to free time and a safe environment; and stress may be unavoidable due to lack of basic needs.
In order to promote and improve women’s health, we must manage social determinants. Providers alone cannot address all patient needs; social services can fill the void to provide additional help. This National Women’s Health Week, let’s not just remind women to be healthy, let’s empower women. By addressing patient needs and coordinating care with other providers and social services agencies, we can improve health for all women.
Women’s health should never be disregarded, and that means we must not only protect their benefits, but also help them access the care they need and deserve.
For those interested in helping women become empowered in their healthcare, Healthify can help. At Healthify, we are focused on supporting coordinating services within communities to better address social determinants. If you’re interested in learning how, please contact us below.