October 1, 2019

Harnessing the Power of the Purse through Obstetrics


Women have extensive buying power and influence, driving 70-80% of consumer purchasing.[1] So it is no surprise that women act as their families’ Chief Medical Officers, making more than 80% of all healthcare decisions for themselves and their families.[2]

Women consume a variety of health services based on their age and medical needs, ranging from pediatrics and adolescent care for their children to digestive, cardiovascular, and oncology services for themselves. But it is important to note that pregnancy services are an important front door for many women to health systems.

Approximately 74% of mothers receive subsequent care in the system they delivered, and approximately 35% who switch providers specifically for pregnancy-related care return to the delivery facility for other care.[3] For the 44% of moms with multiple children who switch providers between pregnancies, the leading reasons are changes in the patient’s preferences and unfavorable experience.

With delivery being widely known to be loyalty driven, it is important to connect the downstream benefit and impact of satisfied consumers of women’s service on institutions, especially from a patient experience standpoint, on other services such as oncology and cardiology.

Preferences and priorities women evaluate when deciding on providers and facilities include:

  • Insurance limitations
  • Patient-provider/caregiver relationship
  • Facility scores for low birth trauma rates
  • C-section rates
  • Access to birth options
  • Technology and specialized services
  • Preferred amenities
  • Access to specialists and subspecialists

These preferences rank much higher than the quality of the space, which some may find surprising. This is not to downplay the significance of a well-designed and beautifully finished facility in patient outcomes as the perceived quality is often paired with clean and beautiful healing environments.

From a facility standpoint, patients prioritize access to a private and peaceful environment with consideration for family support spaces such as those that promote rooming-in programs and patient-centered care over access to luxurious amenities. Consequently, facilities should focus on providing delivery rooms and family support suites with privacy and a welcoming environment for patients and their families before, during, and post-delivery. At the same time, facilities need to strike the right balance between those provisions and the level to which luxury amenities are available. Undoubtedly these amenities may very well be highly desired in some markets and communities more than others.

Some details to consider for labor and delivery suites include:

  • Having ample space to comfortably accommodate mom and baby
  • Orientation of rooms to natural lighting
  • Optimal views of the exterior
  • Buffers to noisier areas through the selection of sound absorptive materials
  • Careful selection of warm and inviting interior finishes (lighting, color, textures, furniture) that are less institutional but cleanable and safe for use in healthcare environments
  • Adaptable rooms for Snoezelen therapy elements if appropriate
  • Comfortable showers or tub rooms
  • Security considerations, providing a level of operability of some room controls
  • Amenities to conveniently support families as an extension of the caregiving team (sleeping, showering, nourishment, technology)

Incorporating these sorts of details will positively impact the healing space, go a long way to shape the patient and her family’s experience and perceived quality of care, build loyalty, and positively inform their selection of a site for future care.

Healthcare facilities should weigh the associated opportunities and benefits in prioritizing what’s important to prospective patients and their institutions in promoting and fostering loyalty from women’s services patients whenever possible. After all, where mom goes the rest of the family usually follows.

[1] Nelson, Amy. Women Drive Majority of Consumer Purchasing and It’s Time to Meet Their Needs. Inc. https://www.inc.com/amy-nelson/women-drive-majority-of-consumer-purchasing-its-time-to-meet-their-needs.html.

[2] General Facts on Women and Job Based Health. U.S. Department of Labor. https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/ebsa/about-ebsa/our-activities/resource-center/fact-sheets/women-and-job-based-health.pdf.

[3] Zuehlke Heuser, Emily. How Do Women Choose Their Pregnancy Care? Advisory Board. https://www.advisory.com/research/market-innovation-center/research-briefs/2018/how-do-women-choose-their-pregnancy-care.

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