What healthcare providers need to know about millennial patients
The demographic born between the years 1986 to 1996 is termed Gen Y or as they are more popularly known – millennials. The oldest millennials are now entering their 40s and many of them are in their 30s. A significant portion of the people seeking healthcare will now belong to this population group. They are decision-makers not only for their own healthcare but also for their children and parents. A lot has been spoken about shifts in behaviours and habits led by the millennials. That’s because this is the first generation to have grown up with the internet and parallel to its fast-paced evolution, earning the term digital natives. As patients, millennials have different expectations from healthcare than the previous generations. Here’s what healthcare providers need to know about millennials and the kind of care they expect:
Online presence validates real-life existence
As digital natives, millennials are most likely to turn to the internet first when they have questions and are used to finding their answers independently and immediately. So when they’re looking for a healthcare provider, their search will begin online. Make sure your practice has an online presence complete with a mobile-friendly website and up-to-date social media pages. Your online presence must give them an idea of the patient experience they can expect. Include helpful and clear information about your practice, experts, specialists, services you offer and conditions you treat.
Apps can resolve most of their needs
Unlike earlier generations, millennials rely heavily on digital services and apps for almost all their needs including healthcare. As early adopters of new technology, they are more open to embracing non-traditional models of care. In fact, they expect it from their healthcare providers and will opt for a practice that offers digital services over one that doesn’t. The best way to make an impression with this cohort of patients is by making these options available. This generation will respond positively to care delivered virtually and is more likely to prefer telemedicine over clinic visits.
Relationship with primary care provider
Research indicates that millennials and their succeeding generation, Gen Z, don’t have a go-to primary care provider like older generations. They also don’t have an ongoing relationship with their primary care provider and will switch based on factors like care experience, convenience and cost. While older generations may have preferred receiving care from a provider they’re comfortable and familiar with, millennials don’t mind retail and walk-in clinics. Studies suggest that these younger generations are driving the behavioural shift towards on-demand healthcare.
Peer reviews and opinionated patients
The earlier generations turned to family and friends for trusted recommendations of healthcare providers. In addition to these sources, millennials also turn to online reviews when they are searching for a healthcare provider. They vet medical practices based on reviews and experiences posted by peers and other patients on review websites and social media. Known as the generation with strong opinions, millennials will also share a review of their experience online.
Engaged throughout their healthcare journey
As the generation that uses wearable devices and apps, millennials are more engaged in their healthcare journey. Providers will find that their millennial patients want to be a part of the decision-making. You can expect them to be informed of their condition before they visit you. Patients who do internet research are a common pet peeve for physicians but with millennials, it’s helpful that you don’t dismiss their findings. They like to gather their information independently and from multiple sources. For a better patient relationship, providers can evaluate what their millennial patients already know and guide them by clearing errors and gaps. It will also help if providers direct their patients to additional sources of information on their condition and treatment.
Convenience is a priority
They expect short wait times, same-day or last-minute appointments and quicker visits. With non-traditional and flexible work schedules, millennials prefer appointments during evening hours and weekends. They are also more likely to opt for providers that allow online appointment scheduling, management, payments and claims. Easy online access to their medical records, reports and lab results goes a long way in determining the millennial patient’s satisfaction with their healthcare provider. It’s also important to note how millennials communicate. They do not want to be contacted by phone for non-urgent correspondence. These patients would prefer text-based reminders and complex information sent over email.
The cost of healthcare is important to millennials and they’re more conscious of healthcare expenditure. With many engaged in unconventional or part-time professions, they are more likely to be uninsured. Research indicates that millennials would skip healthcare if it’s too expensive. You can expect these patients to make enquiries about costs before the consultation and they will compare costs of different providers before making a decision. These patients appreciate providers that offer price transparency and discuss healthcare costs upfront. To build a long-lasting relationship with millennial patients, make provisions for your practice to offer cost estimates for the recommended care.