Men don’t go to their doctors and it kills 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 from it preventable health conditions and die on average Five years younger than women, according to the World Health Organization.
General explanations for not seeking medical help include lack of flexible appointment times (61%), lack of health insurance (20%) and “not wanting to know” (37%), particularly in relation to “taboo” topics including sexual and mental health .
In a 2019 editorial. The lancet writes that: “Strong beliefs, norms, attitudes and stereotypes about masculinity are prevalent and detrimental to men’s health. These beliefs create social barriers that prevent men from seeking medical services and expose them to greater risks.
The way forward is clear. If men’s health outcomes are to be improved, we must create new pathways for men to access health care—pathways that circumvent 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.
2020 document notes that social stigma prevents men from trusting health professionals, adding that, “This is exactly the area of health care that telemedicine aims to address. By providing personalized patient care in the privacy of the patient’s home, telemedicine companies are able to provide healthcare services to patients seeking consultation on topics previously considered too embarrassing to discuss in public.
However, building digital offerings in health systems risks stretching budgets and capacity beyond the breaking point. To mitigate this, healthcare providers have adopted an alternative model giving male patients access to the benefits of digital health: VIMPRO (Vertically Integrated Microproviders).
What is VIMPRO?
A VIMPRO refers to a digital healthcare provider that provides a comprehensive service to a specific patient group: for example, men suffering from ‘taboo’ health conditions. Typically offering diagnostics, consultations, treatment plans and drug delivery, a number of VIMPROs have already been successfully integrated into national health systems
These platforms have proven incredibly impactful in the men’s health space, providing discreet and seamless access to education and treatment for erectile dysfunction, obesity, hair loss and depression.
How VIMPRO helps improve men’s health
According to a 2018 paper: “Effective strategies to address men’s health issues require a comprehensive understanding of men’s health needs, which includes not only understanding the epidemiology of men’s health, but also their health-seeking behaviors and the social structure surrounding men. “
The VIMPRO model directly addresses this – providing direct access to specialist clinical support – in all areas of men’s health, including mental health, sexual health and gut health – whilst taking into account men’s health-seeking behaviour, including everyone around them who seek help.
Market leaders in the men’s health VIMPRO space, Numan offers an easy-to-use VIMPRO platform that takes men from a free online consultation to 24-hour medication delivery. Users do not have to travel to a GP or pharmacist to pick up their prescription or medication. By eliminating the complications and inconvenience associated with seeking medical care, Numan has tapped into the market of men who want to take control of their health. Last September, they raised $40 million – the largest fundraising in the men’s health sector and a testament to their strong market positioning – to support the expansion of their platform in the UK and Europe.
The future of men’s health
Providing ‘correct’ health care for men is a challenge fraught with physiological, environmental and sociological obstacles. While not a solution to every problem, VIMPRO offers 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, VIMPRO is poised to play a major role in addressing taboos and transforming men’s health outcomes.
Photo: Chinnapong, Getty Images