Research from the Commonwealth Fund found that American men are reluctant to seek care for their health. Eighty-two percent of men would delay care even if they were concerned about their health: 25% would wait as long as possible to visit their doctor, 17% would wait a week, and 40% would wait a few days. Men are similarly hesitant to seek preventive care: studies show that 60% of men 50 years and older had not visited their doctor for colon cancer screening and 41% had not been tested for prostate cancer in the last year.
This hesitancy to seek medical care can lead to preventable hospitalizations, which increases health care costs and contributes to men living an average of six years less than women. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that men are 28% more likely than women to be hospitalized for congestive heart failure, 32% more likely than women to be hospitalized for long-term complications of diabetes, and are 24% more likely than women to be hospitalized for pneumonia that could have been prevented by immunization.
These statistics demonstrate a gap in the traditional healthcare model and an opportunity to more effectively engage men in prioritizing their health. While women’s health centers, which offer a host of coordinated health care and support services, have been established for quite some time, men’s health centers are a new paradigm that can offer unique services catered to men’s needs. Men can benefit from coordinated care, given their hesitancy to pursue care on their own behalf due to lack of time, lack of priority or a perceived view that they should be “strong and resilient.”
The Solution: A Men’s Health Program
Bridgeport Hospital wants to improve health outcomes for men through a Men’s Health Program. We want to help men focus on wellness and prevention to prevent disease and also facilitate access to physician appointments and services when there is a health concern. Our physicians know from experience that many of their patients whom they refer to additional physicians or services do not follow through for a variety of reasons such as lack of time, priority or interest. But these factors can be easily overcome by coordinated care and cross referrals within a network of providers and services.
Given the community-based model of physician care in our region, the Men’s Health Program will consist of a virtual, multidisciplinary network of physicians and support services working together to enhance men’s health. Partnering physicians will include Primary Care Physicians, Urologists, Pulmonologists, Gastroenterologists, Cardiologists, Orthopedists, and others, as well as a host of support services such as nutrition, alternative medicine, physical therapy, massage therapy and mental health counseling.
The centerpiece of the service coordination will be a Men’s Health Navigator. The Men’s Health Navigator will be a nurse whose job is to navigate men to necessary services. Just as a hotel concierge knowledgeably connects hotel guests to services and resources, the Men’s Health Navigator will offer appointment coordination and scheduling, hand-offs and introductions, and gently ensure follow up.
The navigator will work closely with all the providers in the network, connecting with their offices weekly to identify their male patients who require additional services or physician visits and documenting what services have been recommended for each patient. The navigator will then proactively connect with each patient to remind him of the recommended referrals, answer any questions he may have and offer assistance with scheduling future appointments. The navigator will be knowledgeable of health needs unique to men and will be able to recommend exceptional and timely customer service. Attaining comprehensive, integrated health care can be time consuming for the patient. By working with each patient on an individual level, the navigator will meet the needs of each male patient, helping to fit medical appointments within his work and home schedule.
The services of the navigator are not currently reimbursed by insurance. Please help us launch the new Men’s Health Program by making a gift to support the salary of the registered nurse who will serve in this critically important role.
Men’s health is ripe for improvement, and Bridgeport Hospital can be the catalyst for innovation in our community. The virtual, multidisciplinary Men’s Health Program and the Men’s Health Navigator will provide comprehensive, coordinated care, focusing awareness of appropriate health care services and mitigating barriers that delay men from pursuing timely medical care.