Meet Millennials — an age group 72 million-strong that currently constitutes the largest generation within US society. As the generational shift progresses, medical practices must recognize the unique needs of these new patients and update some of their more traditional methods of care. This guide offers a brief insight into the demands of the Millennial patient and provides crucial guidelines that are indispensable for any physician eager to learn what this group wants from healthcare.
Who Are Millennials?
Aged 24 to 39, Millennials (also called Generation Y, in keeping with the preceding Generation X) are people born at the very end of the 20th century, between 1981 and 1996. This time frame largely coincides with the popularization of inventions that define the world today, such as the internet, PCs, or mobile phones. As a result, Millennials are the first generation to have grown up inherently influenced by modern technology, which is central to their lifestyle.
Another distinctive feature of Generation Y is its racial and ethnic makeup. Compared to previous age groups, Millennials are far more diverse and comprise a notably higher percentage of immigrants. That, combined with a higher level of education and young age, results in Millennials being open, adaptable, money-conscious, concerned about their future, and putting a high value on quality and convenience.
Let’s explore five key facts about Millennials all healthcare providers should keep in mind when adjusting their services to these young patients.
Millennials Value Flexibility
Generally speaking, Millennials are always in a rush, busy with work, striving for continuing education or simply just too attached to their phones to look up and notice that there's a world spinning around them. As a result, this leaves little time to squeeze in a physician office visits. When they do find time to see a doctor, it is often in cases of emergencies, when other solutions have failed.
When asked about the quality of various aspects of traditional healthcare, 21% of Millennials were dissatisfied with wait times and the speed of scheduling an appointment, and 16% were dissatisfied with the convenience of appointment times.
It’s worth noting that thanks to their convenience and speed, Urgent Care clinics are one of the most Millennial-friendly healthcare models. Some traditional facilities have started adopting a similar approach by committing part of the regular working hours to extra walk-in slots. Another solution is to introduce same-day scheduling which will come in handy to both last minute patients as well as those who do not follow a normalized daily routine.
They Want It Simple, Accessible, and Convenient
Even if the wait time is reduced to the minimum and patients can set appointments in a matter of minutes, there still may be room for improvement. Affordability is one of the main factors influencing Millennials’ healthcare preferences — only 17% of them do not take cost into account when opting for a particular medical service. They want to know what they are paying for, and they want to get the quote upfront.
Transparency is also crucial when it comes to communicating with Millennials. The information should be easy to find (especially in the digital format) and understand. Incomprehensible medical jargon can deter Generation Y patients from consulting a provider, just like an uninformative, hard to navigate website.
In the Millennial World, Technology Is Pervasive
From managing personal finances to dating, tech is present in every aspect of Millennials’ lives. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that they seek digital access to healthcare as well. Depending on the type of service, up to 44% of Millennials would be more willing to choose the provider that offers online functionalities.
This reliance on technology is tightly connected with Millennials’ strong preference for time-saving solutions. Healthcare providers can use this to their advantage, both to attract young patients and to boost work efficiency. Implementing medical call answering will significantly increase service availability and convenience, while online access to prescriptions and records will allow patients to keep track of their health while on the go.
Primary Care Physicians Are Not Always Primary
Only around two-thirds of Millennials have a primary care doctor, a marked difference in comparison with Generation X and Boomers (78% and 85%, respectively). The reason for that shift away from PCPs does not lie in increased mistrust towards doctors. In reality, it's just the opposite — many Millennials admit that they would like to have an assigned PCP; they just cannot find one that would suit their needs. And those needs include affordability, convenience, and flexibility.
This reluctance is a prime example of Millennials’ priorities that emphasizes why traditional methods of care need to be reworked to correspond to the preferences of these new patients.
Opinion Matters for Millennials
Spending a large chunk of their lives online, most Millennials developed the habit of looking up and double-checking every piece of information on the internet. The same goes for deciding between different products and service providers, including healthcare. These choices are often dictated by the word-of-mouth reviews, recommendations, and ratings shared by other patients. Over half of Millennials seek additional information from up to seven online sources before making a choice.
There’s no doubt that the online reputation of a medical practice can either be a great asset or a blight. However, given the prevalence of Millennials and the trust that they place in reviews on the web, nurturing a positive reputation is more important than ever.
Understanding patients’ needs and adapting to them is the key to success. This simple truth will prove priceless as a new type of patient becomes the primary recipient of healthcare services. The rising significance of Millennials may urge many providers to steer away from traditional business models and to adopt a more retail and convenience-oriented approach instead.