23 Oct 2018 American men don’t go to the doctor when they need to, so can tech bring the doctor to them?
We all know one – the man in our lives who refuses to see the doctor. It’s not just anecdotal that men are less likely to seek help with their health: there’s a lot of research to back it up. For example, a 2014 study by the CDC found that men are twice as likely to put off a visit to the doctor for two years, and three times as likely to stretch that out into 5. More than 1 in every 5 American men hasn’t been to the doctor in a year; more that 1 in 10 hasn’t been in two years.
And it’s not just the doctor they’re avoiding. Research shows that women are up to twice as likely to have visited the dentist in the past year. Dentists say that, in some cases, men won’t see a dentist unless a woman books an appointment for them.
The results of this are devastating. For every 10 premature deaths of women under 50, there are 16 premature deaths of men in the same age group. That’s to say nothing of the enormous cost incurred in expensive treatments for health problems that could have been caught early or avoided altogether through routine care. Nearly half of men claim they don’t need to see a dentist, and nearly 1 in 5 say they don’t have time. 30% say they’re embarrassed or afraid to go, and men with low incomes are far more likely to avoid going to any kind of health care appointment for extended periods of time.
To help solve this issue, we need to make sure that seeking health advice and health care is made as easy as possible for men across the US.
When men say they can’t find time with their jobs, we need to answer with services you can use anytime, anywhere. When men are concerned about the cost, we need to answer with services that don’t run up huge bills. When men are afraid to go, we need to answer with healthcare advice that is positive and solutions oriented. When men who avoid the doctor are given the opportunity to get cheap, trustworthy advice from the comfort of their own home, the worst outcomes of the bigger problem can be avoided.
Luckily, we can reliably expect tech solutions like this to make a big impact. App designers know from research that while men and women tend to download apps at equal rates overall, there are big gender differences in app use. Men are quicker to adopt an app into their routine and to use it on a long-term basis. There are also gender differences in the types of apps that are popular- and health & fitness apps are some of the most popular apps amongst men.
While attacking the wider problems leading to health issues for men is important, it’s a long-term fight. Tech has the opportunity to play a large role in dealing with the symptoms of that larger problem, and helping to improve men’s health habits. Avoidance of the doctor, dentist, & other health professionals is hurting all of us, in our pockets, in concern for those we care about, and in the worst cases in the loss of our friends.
Sources: NHIS, Orlando Health Survey, FitBit, Colgate, Medical Journal of Australia, American Journal of Men’s Health, Northcut Dental, Grand Dental, Academy of General Dentistry, DentalAsAnything, Intel, Journal of Internet Commerce, Mobile Media and Communication, Telemedicine and e-Health