Men don’t go to their doctors and it’s killing them.
65% of men avoid seeking medical advice, with 37% actively withholding information from their doctors, according to a survey of US men. This is one of the main reasons why men suffer disproportionately preventable health conditions and die on average 5 years younger than women, according to the World Health Organization.
Common explanations for not seeking medical support include lack of flexible appointment times (61%), lack of health insurance (20%) and “don’t want to know” (37%), especially regarding ‘taboo’ topics, including sexual health and mental.
In a 2019 editorial, Lancet wrote that: “Strong masculinity beliefs, norms, attitudes, and stereotypes are pervasive and detrimental to men’s health. These beliefs create social barriers that prevent men from seeking medical services and that expose them to greater risks.”
The way forward is clear. If we want to improve men’s health outcomes, we must create new pathways for men to access health care—pathways that avoid these social barriers.
Innovations in digital health and the VIMPRO model
Providing men with access to properly integrated virtual and remote care is an effective way to improve their engagement with health services.
A 2020 letter notes that social stigma prevents men from trusting health care professionals, adding that: “This is exactly the area of health care that telemedicine seeks to address. By providing personalized care to patients within the privacy of the patient’s home, telemedicine companies are able to provide healthcare services to patients seeking consultation regarding topics that were previously considered too embarrassing to address in an in-person setting. public space.
However, building digital-first offerings into health systems risks stretching budgets and capacities beyond the breaking point. To mitigate this, healthcare providers have embraced an alternative model that gives male patients access to the benefits of digital health: VIMPRO (Vertically Integrated Micro-Providers).
What is a VIMPRO?
or VIMPRO refers to a digital healthcare provider that offers an end-to-end service to a specific patient group: for example, men suffering from ‘taboo’ health conditions. Typically offering diagnostics, consultations, treatment plans and medication distribution, a number of VIMPROs have already been successfully integrated into national health care systems.
These platforms have proven to be incredibly influential in the men’s health space, offering discreet and barrier-free access to education and treatment for erectile dysfunction, obesity, hair loss and depression.
How VIMPROs are helping to improve men’s health
According to one 2018 paper: “Effective strategies for addressing men’s health issues require a comprehensive understanding of men’s health needs, which includes not only an understanding of the epidemiology of men’s health, but also their health-seeking behaviors and the social structure that surrounds men. .”
The VIMPRO model directly addresses this – providing direct access to specialist clinical support – across all areas of men’s health, including mental health, sexual health and gut health – taking into account men’s health-seeking behaviours, including those who seek help.
Market leaders in the VIMPRO men’s health space, Numan, offers a user-friendly VIMPRO platform that takes men from a free online consultation to medication delivery in 24 hours. Users do not have to travel to a GP or pharmacist to get their prescription or medication. By eliminating the complications and embarrassment associated with seeking medical help, Numan has tapped into a market of men who want to take control of their health. Last September, they raised $40 million – the largest ever fundraising in the men’s health sector and testament to their strong market positioning – to support the growth of their platform in the UK and Europe.
The Future of Men’s Health
Getting men’s health care ‘right’ is a challenge fraught with physiological, environmental and sociological barriers. While not the answer to every problem, VIMPROs offer a highly specialized solution to men’s health needs – providing fast, accurate medical advice and prescriptions while overcoming many of the existing barriers.
When built with the right technology and integrations, VIMPROs are on track to play a fundamental role in addressing taboos and transforming men’s health outcomes.
Photo: Chinnapong, Getty Images