Stigma and uncertainty can stop women accessing the help they need for top healthy aging issues such as menopause and sexual health.
That’s why it’s so important to bring such topics out into the open, say HealthyWomen Chief Executive Officer Beth Battaglino, RN, and Director of Marketing and Communications Lisa Meindel.
“The more we empower women to talk about their health concerns, the more they can take control of their own health,” says Battaglino, who has led the independent women’s health information organization HealthyWomen for more than 13 years.
Together, the pair offer fellow patient advocacy groups their top four tips on how to reach women and engage with them more in their own healthcare decision-making.
Use personal stories to educate
At HealthyWomen, we’ve found that shared personal health stories resonate deeply with our audience of women.
That fact has always been true since our launch in 1988. Back then, we featured interviews with women in our print publications. Since then, our platform has moved online and now we share our series of Real Women, Real Stories through articles, social media and video. But no matter the platform, it’s about giving life to each woman’s voice.
Having real women raise their hand to tell real stories, and then sharing them in the right way to reach the most women, brings our organization and its mission to life. Through these personal stories, women can see how informed health choices can make a difference in someone’s very real life — and then they want to pay it forward.
In the end, it’s about establishing trusting relationships with the women we work with to fuel the work that we do as a patient advocacy organization.
Develop a social community of trust
Social media remains an important way to engage women, but successful organizations know that tone and content must be strategic to each platform. (For example, what works well on Twitter may not resonate the same way on Instagram.)
That said, adopting a welcoming, informed and patient-first voice is certainly a first step to any successful social media strategy. From there, however, test how you work with each platform and watch how your audience responds. They will tell you what works best.
Through our social media, newsletter and digital strategy at HealthyWomen, we have created an online space where women are happy to share their stories – stories they may have been uncomfortable talking about even a few years ago. Digital platforms give women an opportunity to be brave about their own health.
Provide the right information
When it comes to women’s health, online information needs have evolved from a disease-specific focus in the early ’90s to queries on how to maintain our health and wellbeing, and age well.
Our website now ranks as one of the top 10 in women’s health. We provide current and accurate information and continue to evolve to meet the needs of both consumers and healthcare providers. Today we’re focused on addressing women’s health needs from ages 35 to 64. That’s our sweet spot.
We do a lot of market research as part of our programs and initiatives at HealthyWomen. Listening to our audience, both consumers and healthcare providers, helps drive our content and offerings. This helps us understand where there may be some gaps and it helps inform our content strategy as well as our programming opportunities for the upcoming year.
Find strategic partners
While we use our resources to educate women about their health, we use strategic partnerships to build brand awareness. Some of these partners do not address women’s health directly but have a large audience within the more general consumer health space. Others are more lifestyle-focused but they want to offer health information. We provide them with articles, resources and tips for their newsletters, social media and other needs.
We also work with healthcare professional organizations seeking top-line women’s health information or articles on HealthyWomen’s trending topics. Working with HealthyWomen allows them to initiate conversations with their membership around sensitive issues such as sexual health or menopausal hormone therapy.
What we’ve done from the get-go is to collaborate with different partners to create a more powerful program or campaign and spread the word farther than we could on our own.