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ACP Releases Positions on Women’s Health

May 30, 2018
Recommendations aim to alleviate healthcare system challenges

A PPM Brief

Women make up more than half of the US population, and women aged 85 years or older outnumber their male counterparts nearly 2 to 1.1 Across all age groups, women face many challenges in the US healthcare system, including: access to care; sex- and gender-specific health issues; variation in health outcomes compared to men; underrepresentation in research studies; and what many may perceive as biased public policies. The American College of Physicians (ACP) recently released seven recommendations2 meant to support the health of women going forward.

These recommendations aim to improve the overall well-being of women throughout all stages of their life, and to address public policy issues that may result in barriers to health care access.2 Below are a few of the college’s positions related to general healthcare:

  1. Internists are well-suited to provide high-quality women's healthcare and that clinicians in all specialties and fields, including internal medicine, who care for women should receive appropriate training in health issues of particular relevance to the population of women seen in their practice setting. Training should emphasize both primary and comprehensive care of women, such as office gynecology, as well as the internist's role in team-based care for complex issues.
  2. It is essential for women to have access to affordable, comprehensive, nondiscriminatory public or private healthcare coverage that includes evidence-based care over the course of their lifespans. Health insurers should not be allowed to charge women higher premiums or impose higher cost sharing on women because of their sex or gender.
  3. Patient autonomy on matters affecting one’s individual health is crucial.
  4. Efforts to improve the representation of women's health in clinical research and close knowledge gaps related to specific women's health issues should be supported.

ACP further noted that “stakeholders must consider how to integrate women's health needs into policy discussion and capitalize on opportunities to improve the health of women, their families, and society.”2

As part of a meeting to commemorate National Women’s Health Week (May 13-19, 2018), FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb discussed3 the underrepresentation of women as subjects in clinical trials, including for medical devices, calling for clinical trial sponsors to improve their efforts in addressing this need.

In related news, FDA has moved to improve the development of safe, women-oriented medical devices.3 The agency has integrated the initiative, called the Women’s Health Technologies Strategically Coordinated Registry Network (CRN), into its already existing Device Safety Action Plan. By gathering real-world data on device performance, new technologies may be filling research gaps and treatment of women-specific conditions, such as for uterine fibroids and pelvic floor disorders. As part of the initiative, common data elements for sex and gender will be included in prominent medical device registries.

Last updated on: June 1, 2018
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