Healthcare providers set sights on women's health

Amid the healthcare industry's increased focus on improving the health of certain populations, more providers have started to cater directly to one type of healthcare consumer--women.

In southern New Jersey, two facilities in particular have invested considerably in accommodating female patients, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. One, the Virtua for Women program, offers on-site child care, spa services, longer appointment times structured to build deeper relationships between providers and patients, and a care-coordination program staffed by female navigators.

Meanwhile, the Ripa Center for Health and Wellness boasts fitness classes, complimentary computer cubicles to use while waiting for appointments and a slew of creature comforts designed to distract patients from unpleasant procedures. Both facilities are staffed with female doctors trained in a variety of subspecialties and offer comprehensive women's wellness programs, according to the newspaper.

The New Jersey facilities aren't alone in zeroing in on women's health. On the collegiate level, Texas A&M's women's health services program has expanded significantly over the past decade, the Battalion Online reports. Now far removed from the days of employing just one visiting OB-GYN, the fully-staffed facility offers essentially any service that a gynecologist's office can, including consultations about a variety of women's health concerns.

But for all the gains providers have made in promoting women's health, some segments of the population who need such programs the most still face barriers to access. In Ohio, for example, women's health and abortion rights advocates have expressed concern over a proposal in the state budget that would eliminate Medicaid coverage for three subsidized insurance programs that involve coverage for family planning, breast and cervical cancer service, and healthcare coverage for pregnant women, according to Cleveland.com.

While the state says the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion have rendered the programs unnecessary, some say the proposal leaves room for low-income pregnant women to fall into a coverage gap.

"Inadvertently what they're doing is if a woman gets pregnant and is not in the exchange, she would have to wait until an open enrollment period." Kellie Copeland, executive director for NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, told the publication.

Women also find themselves at a disadvantage in regard to clinical research, FierceHealthcare previously reported. As disease and drug studies still are skewed more toward male physiology, women may be at risk for incorrect diagnoses, inadequate treatment recommendations and missed opportunities for prevention.

To learn more:
- read the Inquirer report
- check out the Battalion article
- here's the Cleveland.com piece

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