February 18, 2020

Gen X Women: Our “Families’ Chief Healthcare Officers”

Photo showing GenX mom and family talking to HCP

Are you a Gen X woman, too? Like me, you probably remember grunge, Atari, and E.T. (For more on generational stereotypes, by the way, check out our article, “Generation Vex: Substance Vs. Stereotype.”) And if you’re a Gen X woman today, you’re probably familiar with something else: a new role many of us are taking on – that of Chief Healthcare Officer for our families.

I’ve got three teens who are learning how to manage more of their own healthcare decisions, and I’ve also got parents in their 80s who are active and tech-savvy but still look to me for advice about some of their healthcare decisions. Sound familiar?

Let’s talk for a minute about the demographics of this increasingly common scenario. We in “Generation X” are in our 40s and 50s, having been born between the mid ‘60s and the late ‘70s. But we may also represent a “sandwich generation” — still caring for our children while also providing support for aging parents.

When you consider that about 80% of a household’s healthcare purchasing decisions are made by the woman of the house (according to NRC Health survey data, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the Inclusionary Leadership Group), it becomes clear:

Gen X women are, in a very real way, chief healthcare officers for their spheres of influence, frequently making or weighing in on healthcare decisions for themselves, their children, parents, and partners.

All this makes sense, both statistically and anecdotally; however, as pharma marketers, we often spend the majority of our focus and marketing efforts on our primary audiences: patients and healthcare providers. If we do think about a third group, we often consider caregivers in stereotypical situations – a family member at a bedside or behind a wheelchair, not the informed spouse and/or adult child who most often takes on this chief healthcare officer’s role.

But the chief healthcare officer’s role doesn’t look like the stereotypical caregiver’s. Instead, she’s scheduling appointments on her lunch breaks, texting reminders, driving family members to appointments, researching doctors, asking questions about drug side effects, selecting the family’s insurance benefits and more. She might even need to find new housing for her aging parents.

Many of us know what it’s like to be a Gen X woman in a chief healthcare officer role – but pharma marketers may be falling short when it comes to connecting with this very important audience. How can we support her and her role as the primary caregiver?

How Pharma Marketers Can Help Take the Pressure Off
The chief healthcare officer is adapting to her role, but she needs help. Do you provide tools that reduce the friction in her work? Do you address her concerns? Are you, in short, speaking to her and helping her be the best influence possible for her loved ones? Here are a few other examples of how to help chief healthcare officers take care of themselves and their loved ones:

  • Offer different ways to connect and provide services and information, via social media channels, health portals, apps, chatbots, for example.
  • Offer facts, not fluff, backed up with reputable sources; Gen X women can be savvy researchers and should be counted on to detect messaging that’s not genuine or based in fact.
  • Help them stay loyal. Gen X women, like most people, want to save money. Offer coupon programs, or perhaps points programs that reward visitors for coming to your brand’s site.

Want to help your brand connect with Gen X caregivers and make their lives easier? Reach out to your account team!

Liz Corbin is an associate director of strategic planning at Intouch Solutions.