How meeting the needs of 80 million millennials benefits patients of all generations

Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation. Defined as those born between 1982 and 2000, this group is more than 80 million strong and represents more than a quarter of the U.S. population. While millennials have been pegged as fickle, cheap, and overly dependent on technology, the fact is, this diverse group of tech-savvy, cost-conscious, engaged consumers is changing health care. Doctors who understand what makes millennials tick, and what’s a turnoff, just might find that meeting this generation’s needs benefits all their patients.

Diversity matters

Overall, millennials are more diverse than previous generations, with more than 44 percent being part of a minority race or ethnic group, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

And it’s not just younger age groups that are changing. The overall population has become more racially and ethnically diverse in the last decade. The latest Census found that several states are now majority-minority, including Hawaii, the District of Columbia, California, and Texas. By 2055, the U.S. will not have a single racial or ethnic majority.

Millennial patients are more diverse. Do your marketing and patient education materials reflect this?

Research has shown that diversity matters, especially to minority patients. A good first step in your practice is to take a look at your marketing materials and patient education. Do the people depicted there resemble your actual patients in terms of age, race, gender, etc.? Do you provide information in other languages if you serve a bi- or multi-lingual patient base?

For more on this topic, see Why Diversity Matters in Your Practice

A consumer approach to health care

Millennials tend to approach health care like any other consumer transaction – researching doctors online, checking out review sites, and asking for friends’ recommendations on Facebook. While it can be dismaying to providers to hear that their younger patients shop for doctors the way they shop for hairdressers, it doesn’t have to be.

There are plenty of things your practice could, and should, be doing to provide the best service possible, from having an appealing waiting room, to making eye contact before turning to your EHR screen, to taking steps to reduce wait time whenever possible.

Millennial-friendly doctors should consider costs, choices

Millennial-friendly doctors should also consider costs, as health care payment responsibility shifts primarily to patients. A recent survey by the Health Industry Distributors Association found that 41 percent of patients postponed seeking health care because it was too expensive, and 60 percent of patients said cost influenced their evaluation of a provider — and was a significant reason why they’d leave a provider.

It’s in doctors’ best interest to offer patients choices when it comes to treatments, as well as helping patients understand their health care coverage and navigate costs. Another survey found that 41 percent of millennials request estimates before undergoing treatment.

For more on this topic, see Consumer-Driven Health Care: A Service-Care Balance

Digital natives

Millennials were born with smartphones in their hands, or so the assumption goes. These “digital natives” do appreciate technology and “seek out avenues for connected health care,” reports Becker’s Hospital Review. However, they won’t tolerate providers using technology inefficiently, such as clunky patient portals.

70 percent of millennials would choose a doctor who offers a mobile app over one that does not

Focus on technology that truly benefits your patients. A recent survey found that 70 percent of health-insured millennials said they would choose a primary care doctor who offers a mobile app (allowing patients to make appointments, see bills, view health data, etc.) over one that does not.

Offering web-based patient education videos that are easy to understand and share with friends and family is another smart way to leverage technology. “To reach millennials, physicians should offer reliable resources for patients to access in their own time,” recommended Becker’s Hospital Review. Emailing relevant patient education videos to your patients, such as those from Rendia’s comprehensive video library, allows them to review the information on their own time, whenever and wherever they like.

For more on this topic, see mHealth for Small Practices: Which Tools Make the Cut?

Benefits for all patients

Even if your practice primarily serves the Medicare population, the lessons millennials are teaching us are applicable to all patient populations, Mike D’Eramo, chief administrative officer for the Toledo Clinic, told athenaInsight. “My mother and father don’t like waiting, they don’t like feedback they don’t understand, so there are parallels between my parents and my children.”

Millennial patients are your practice’s future.


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