As a healthcare provider, you must understand your audience and their thought process. The largest age group in American history, the millennials, is now at the height of their spending years and studies show they prefer online appointments for medical services.
The millennials represent the generation of people that came into the world between 1980 and 1995. They have many names, including digital natives, echo boomers, “me, me, me” generation, or Gen Y. A unique generation, they’re set to change the face of the economy.
With their power of spending, it is hard to ignore the preferences of millennials when it comes to healthcare. The concept of millennial healthcare has grown increasingly popular with medical practices focusing on marketing healthcare to millennials specifically.
How is healthcare changing when it comes to millennials’ health? An industry worth over 3 trillion dollars can’t afford to ignore the unique needs of millennials as patients and clients. Millennials are causing a distinct change in the healthcare industry in many ways:
- millennials prefer to make online appointments
- millennials use reviews as a key factor when selecting a doctor
- millennials appreciate websites that allow booking and paying appointments online
- millennials look for easy to process online appointments
All of these facts go to show the incredible role that the internet plays as a facilitator between millennials and healthcare.
Although there is no doubt that healthcare is changing under the apparent influences of the millennials, many practitioners are caught unprepared for delivering millennial health care.
In fact, the healthcare field is the least prepared industry to offer a better customer experience and innovation. Practices should be preoccupied with millennials and health care changing to meet their specific needs, including their preference for online appointments.
Millennials reject the traditional method of accessing medical care, and those healthcare practitioners who fail to see how healthcare is changing will also fail to retain patients.
Patients have become less interested in creating a long-term relationship with their general physician and more interested in accessing medical care faster and more efficiently.
PNC Healthcare has conducted a study on 5,000 consumers detailing the influence of patient-focused care among different age groups: Millennials (21-32), generation X (33-49), baby boomers (50-71) and seniors (over 72). These were the results:
- 25% of millennials prefer acute care clinics
- 14% of boomers prefer acute care clinics
- 11% of seniors prefer acute care clinics
- 34% of millennials prefer retail clinics
- 17% of boomers prefer retail clinics
- 15% of seniors prefer retail clinics
- 85% of seniors have visited their primary care physician
- 80% of boomers have visited their primary care physician
- 61% of millennials have visited their primary care physician
How is the healthcare industry changing to adapt to the changes imposed by the specific needs of millennials’ healthcare? The study shows clearly that millennials approach healthcare in a completely different manner than boomers, generation X, or seniors.
Factors that Influence Millennials’ Health Decisions
Millennials take into account four different elements when they make decisions related to all types of medical services, and these factors are cost, trust, technology, and information.
Factor No 1: Cost
The millennial generation looks for cost-effective care solutions and half of them choose not to visit a doctor because they refuse to spend money. While they don’t want to sacrifice health care altogether, they opt for highly deductible low-premium insurance plans.
Millennials get medical insurance, but they go with the cheapest option. What tactic can a healthcare provider adopt to satisfy the millennial with their minds focused on not spending money? The most obvious strategy is lower prices, while that is not a long-term solution.
The strategy that will be most successful in the long-term is offering the best value for the money they pay. Millennials are practical people, so when they pay for services, they need to be convinced that those services offer the best value that amount of money could buy.
Be transparent as far as the services you are providing and don’t forget to have a straightforward pricing policy that highlights the value of your services against the price.
Factor No 2: Trust
Unlike the generations before them, millennials’ trust in traditional institutions has been crippled by a series of adverse and ill-timed events, including:
- The 2007-2008 financial disaster that almost ruined the US economy
- Record levels of debt in the ranks of the student population
- The 2017 exceptionally controversial elections
Kantar Health and Grey health Group has recently conducted a joint study that revealed that merely 58% of the millennial population expressed their trust in doctors/physicians.
When you compare the 58% to the 73% of the general population stating that they trust doctors, the contrast becomes obvious and shows how untrusty the millennial generation is.
In total contrast, millennials trust Google when they look for information related to healthcare and nutrition, according to a study conducted by Vision Critical in 2016.
A millennial will go online to research a drug that his/her doctor has prescribed. A millennial will take into account the opinion of another consumer as much as the opinion of his/her physician. This type of behavior is not an exception; it is the norm among millennials.
Within this context, healthcare providers must focus on building a reputation for trust in the ranks of the millennial population. It is a long-term process that requires a lot of energy and constancy along the way, but it is a strategy that will pay up in time.
Factor No 3: Technology
Technology rules every aspect of today’s world and the healthcare industry makes no exception. Technology is used for research more than any other means and it is no surprise that people in all age groups use technology to look for answers to health care concerns.
There is no doubt that people of all ages turn to technology in this respect. However, millennials rely on technology more than other age groups. Millennials are pioneers as far as adopting technology and they keep up-to-date with the latest technological advancements.
Since they are usually the ones that give the start to using one piece of technology or another and people typically follow, they expect other people to rely on the same digital technology, including their doctors, whether it means health apps or online health portals.
Millennials expect their doctor’s office to be equipped for the technological era with EMR review, online appointments, self-serve kiosks, online payment, and much more. It is the only way healthcare providers can reach more millennials and offer them what they need.
Keeping up with the technologies and devices that the millennial generation is adopting will help healthcare providers understand the preferences for the technology of this generation. This will improve the conversion rate and generate more revenue for their practice.
Factor No 4: Information
In addition to online appointments and other similar technology-friendly solutions, healthcare providers should understand the way millennials approach healthcare. They use google and try to come up with a diagnosis themselves before making an appointment.
Therefore, medical facilities should be equipped with information that is easy to understand by millennials in their effort to self-diagnosis. To know what information matters and how to present it, providers must understand how a millennials’ mind works.
Communication remains the best way to reach an audience and figure out its needs. Establishing a dialogue with millennial patients will help providers deliver the exact type of information this age group seeks in the precise form they expect to find it online.
Here are some impressive statistics:
- 75% of millennials express their desire for their physicians to share information via mobile devices, which would allow access to information at any given time or place;
- 70% of millennial patients would choose a doctor-provided app to review health records, manage their wellbeing, and schedule online appointments.
- 63% of millennial patients would prefer to provide doctors with health data via wearable devices or wi-fi so that physicians could check their wellbeing.
- Only 60.4% of millennials’ doctors used Electronic Medical Records compared to 74.4% of general population physicians (Truven Health Analytics and NPR, 2014)
- Millennials are the least likely to have a doctor out of all age groups said the same study, which provides digital physicians with new opportunities to get more patients.
- 64% of patients will make online appointments by 2019 (digital appointments) compared to only 34% in 2016, according to the same consulting firm.
- Top 100 health care providers will provide digital self-scheduling to patients.
- 6 million people use ZocDoc to schedule appointments online. ZocDoc was released in 2007 and is an online reviewing and scheduling service.
The possibility of scheduling online appointments via services such as ZocDoc makes more physicians visible to patients and can subsequently reduce patient loyalty. Many healthcare providers have set up online scheduling services on their websites to increase loyalty.
Millennials have a passion for telehealth and that should tell health care providers that checkups can become a digital activity as this particular age group gets older.
Ending thoughts on why millennials prefer online appointments
Medical practices have become aware that they need to operate just like any other business. Their patients are more than patients; they are customers. Therefore, providers have shifted their approach and commenced treating patients more like retail customers.
Other ways that providers can meet the expectations and needs of millennials include better pricing policy, increased transparency, technological friendliness, along with delivering convenient and fast care. It’s an important step that the medical world must take.
Today’s millennials will become responsible for more than their health shortly; they will become responsible for the health of their kids as well, which is why providers must use the opportunity to engage the millennial generation today. Amelia does this in a seamless way, through our WordPress booking software.
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