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Study Uncovers Healthcare Industry Trust and Knowledge Deficit among Female Consumers

Apr 23, 2015

NEW YORK, April 23, 2015 – Although women make the vast majority of healthcare decisions for themselves and others, 63 percent of women in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Japan, and Brazil lack confidence in the healthcare decisions they make, according to a study released today by the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI) in partnership with Kantar Health. The Power of the Purse: Engaging Women Decision Makers for Healthy Outcomes finds that women’s low confidence is partly due to their lack of access to reliable information and trust in the industry. The report also uncovers the industry opportunity to connect with women by understanding their unique definition of health. While healthcare companies organize their product offerings by disease state, the majority of women define health holistically (as having spiritual and emotional well-being, and being physically fit and well-rested.)

Across markets, women make healthcare decisions for themselves (94 percent) and also decide for others (59 percent) which medicines to take, health regimens to follow, doctors to see, and how to live a healthy lifestyle. Yet, as primary decision-makers or “Chief Medical Officers” for the health and wellness of others, they lack the tools to make informed decisions. More than half of women (53 percent) think they can get the best health information from the internet, but 31 percent of these women do not trust the information they receive online. The numbers get worse when it comes to women’s trust in the healthcare industry. Seventy-eight percent of women do not fully trust their health insurance company, 83 percent do not fully trust the pharmaceutical companies that make their medicine and 35 percent do not fully trust their own primary healthcare provider.

“At a time when the industry is suffering from only 50 percent prescription adherence rates among patients and the general population is getting less healthy, we find female CMOs can be healthcare companies’ best allies to achieve better health outcomes for themselves and others,” says Carolyn Buck Luce, executive in residence at Center for Talent Innovation. “The industry has an opportunity to empower women consumers to make informed decisions about products, services, and treatment protocols as well as which healthcare professionals they would like to hire or fire.”

To engage this market segment, the report finds, healthcare companies must first adopt a holistic definition of health. Women overwhelmingly list physical fitness and emotional and spiritual well-being in their definitions of health—far more often than they list the industry’s definition, “being free of illness.” Fully 79 percent of women surveyed say that health means “having spiritual and emotional wellbeing.” Seventy-seven percent cite “being physically fit and well rested.” Companies must also understand that decision-makers aren’t all moms; 43 percent of working women without kids make healthcare decisions for others, and 47 percent of women who are not employed and without children make healthcare decisions for others.

To address women’s lack of trust in the message and the messenger, doctors, pharmacists, pharmaceutical companies, and insurance providers also need to change their behaviors. The report uncovers the behaviors that garner the most trust and satisfaction among female patients and consumers by industry segment:   

Trusted healthcare providers:

  • Report test results in an understandable way, according to 70 percent of women who trust and are satisfied with their primary healthcare provider
  • Discuss preventative care and proactively manages their health, according to 60 percent of women who trust and are satisfied with their primary healthcare provider 

Trusted health insurance companies:

  • Provide coverage for trusted doctors, according to 50 percent of the women who trust and are satisfied with their health insurance company
  • Make preventative care affordable, according to 47 percent of the women who trust and are satisfied with their health insurance company

Trusted primary pharmacists:

  • Provide information to make decisions, according to 41 percent of women who trust and are satisfied with their primary pharmacist
  • Ask about and listens to concerns/questions, according to 38 percent of women who trust and are satisfied with their primary pharmacist

Trusted pharmaceutical companies:

  • Provide clear information along with the prescription to help their patients understand the risks and side effects, according to 27 percent of women who trust and are satisfied with their pharmaceutical company
  • Provide gender and ethnic-specific drug recommendations, according to 25 percent of women who trust and are satisfied with their pharmaceutical company

“Understanding the behaviors that garner trust and satisfaction will assist the Chief Medical Officer in doing her job well,” says Sylvia Ann Hewlett, founder and CEO at the Center for Talent Innovation. “Trusting relationships with healthcare professionals and the organizations they represent can go a long way towards bolstering women’s confidence and trust.”

The healthcare industry employs a large number of women but many of their ideas, insights and capabilities have not yet been fully supported, endorsed, and promoted. As organizations employ many of the women who have real-world insights as “Chief Medical Officers” for themselves and others, they are failing to leverage the valuable assets that can lead to winning the trust of female consumers. The report features best practice examples that can be used as guides for other organizations working to better leverage their top female talent.

“As the Chief Medical Officer of my own family, I understand all too well how frustrating and overwhelming it can be to both an educated expert and an advocate for my and my family’s health and wellbeing,” says Lynnette Cooke, CEO of Kantar Health. “It’s my hope that the insights uncovered by this report can help the biopharma industry, insurance companies, healthcare providers, patients and caregivers work in concert to empower women to make informed healthcare decisions and ultimately improve the health and quality of life for them and their families.”

To view the report findings, visit

About the Research

The research consists of a survey, Insights in-Depth® sessions (a proprietary web-based tool used to conduct voice-facilitated virtual focus groups) involving more than 120 people from our Task Force organizations, and one-on-one interviews with 72 men and women in the US, UK, Germany, Japan, and Brazil. The survey was conducted by Kantar Health under the auspices of the Center for Talent Innovation, a nonprofit research organization. Kantar Health was responsible for the data collection, while the Center for Talent Innovation conducted the analysis.

The Center for Talent Innovation collaborated with Kantar Health to prepare a custom follow-up online survey to the National Health and Wellness Survey (NHWS). The NHWS is the largest healthcare database of projectable, self-reported, real world patient level information. Prior inclusion in NHWS was required to link results across the two studies.

The custom survey was conducted online in July 2014 through September 2014 among 9,218 respondents (4,546 men and 4,672 women: 2,040 in the US, 2,095 in the UK, 2,097 in Germany, 2,089 in Japan, and 897 in Brazil) ages 18+. The NHWS results were from 2013 in the US, UK, Germany, and Japan and 2012 in Brazil. Data from NHWS and custom survey weighted on gender and age in all geographies. The base used for statistical testing was the effective base.

About the Center for Talent Innovation

The Center for Talent Innovation is a nonprofit think tank based in New York City. CTI’s flagship project is the Task Force for Talent Innovation—a private-sector task force focused on helping organizations leverage their talent across the divides of gender, generation, geography and culture. The 89 global corporations and organizations that constitute the Task Force, representing nearly six million employees and operating in 192 countries around the world, are united by an understanding that the full realization of the talent pool is at the heart of competitive advantage and economic success.