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#BreakingTheBias: from hashtag to healthcare revolution

Last updated:
Tue, Mar 8, 2022
Removing healthcare inequalities will take more than simply improving access. This International Women’s Day, Juliet Bauer, SVP and UK Managing Director, discusses how Livi is helping to shape the future of women’s healthcare

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, breaking the bias, is one that resonates powerfully with me, both professionally and personally. I’m proud to lead a diverse team that includes so many incredible women, and every day I hear amazing stories about how we’ve helped patients – women like Sandra, who spent years living with pain that never quite went away.

Late last year, we got Sandra on a path to a diagnosis - endometriosis, a painful, sometimes debilitating condition. In her own words: “the doctor showed me care and compassion, but most importantly, she listened.”

Sandra’s treatment is now going well, but it’s very apparent that there is much work to do to bridge the gender health gap and truly break the bias in healthcare. A lack of inclusivity in medical research means that too often women’s health issues are misdiagnosed or even ignored. Endometriosis, for example, takes on average seven years to diagnose.

Women are also less likely to be treated for their pain than men, often because their symptoms are not taken as seriously by some healthcare professionals. This can have fatal consequences – women are 50% more likely to be misdiagnosed following a heart attack, and are more likely to die from heart failure.

Many of these problems are systemic, bound up in the social inequality we see expressed in the gender pay gap, and lack of senior female leaders, especially in healthcare. But they’re not impossible to overcome, and at Livi we are working hard to make healthcare more accessible, fair and equitable.

Livi now offers more than eight million patients increased access to effective primary care, regardless of age, gender or background. Women can access our care at a time and place that suits them, making it easier to manage their own health and that of their family – a responsibility that falls predominantly on women, who make up nearly 60% of carers.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that 60% of our active patients are female, but we aim to offer women more than improved access. Around 70% of our UK workforce is female – this is no accident. Livi offers female GPs, psychologists and nurses a flexible and sustainable career choice that fits around them. In turn, this means our female patients benefit from healthcare professionals who are likely to understand their needs, reducing delayed diagnoses.

Recently we delivered menopause education sessions for our UK clinicians, to increase knowledge and confidence in helping women experiencing symptoms. There is a growing need for this - approximately 13 million women in the UK are either peri or post menopausal, and 1 in 4 will experience debilitating symptoms that can last up to 15 years. Menopause can also have a huge effect on mental health; over 60% of women experience symptoms resulting in behaviour changes, with half experiencing depression and a third suffering from anxiety. The training increased GPs’ self-assesed knowledge of treatment options for menopause-releated symptoms from an average 4.6/10 to 8/10 - knowledge that will help prevent more women suffering needlessly.

While it’s true that our doctors can provide female patients with contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy, STI kits, and menopause and PMS medication, I think the most important thing we can offer women doesn’t require a prescription.

Women need health services that work for them. Our scale means we are uniquely placed to spot trends in women’s healthcare, identify the gaps, and design services to fill them. Services that reflect the true needs of women in today’s society, instead of the one-size-fits-all approach that has entrenched inequalities and left so many women undiagnosed. It is through harnessing scale, technology and data that we can turn “break the bias” from hashtag to healthcare revolution.

Juliet Bauer, Managing Director, Livi

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