Why all the talk about Millennials these days? Simple. They are America’s largest generation with the greatest spending power, making them the most coveted consumer demographic.
It’s time to let go of the stereotypes of these 22-to-38-year-olds as lazy, disloyal and entitled, and recognize their serious swag over the economy. With their unmatched education level, they are the largest generation in the workforce and soon will be the largest consumers of healthcare. In spite of their spending power hitting $1.4 trillion annually in 2020, they are actually worse off financially than previous generations, translating into some important facts for healthcare providers to know and understand:
- Millennials are more focused on pricing than are older healthcare users, at the same time that premiums and deductibles on health insurance are rising.
- They are therefore more focused on value and are more diligent about investigating what type of care to seek and when and where to get it.
- They are more aware of the need for preventive healthcare, at the same time that fewer of them have a primary care provider. Instead, they have mental health providers, chiropractors, and acupuncturists. They would rather pay for health club memberships than pills and surgery.
- They seek most of their information about healthcare online.
- Millennials tend to hold traditional care models like hospitals and doctor’s offices in fairly low esteem, and instead, gravitate toward urgent care clinics, telemedicine and retail clinics.
So, what are some things that healthcare providers can do to address this “on-demand demographic audience?”
- Text reminder messages about upcoming appointments.
- Provide email access to patient portals where Millennials can complete paperwork in advance of an office visit, making the check-in process a simple, digital one. (And stop asking them to arrive 15 minutes early for appointments, when those appointments are invariably running behind! In fact, institute a messaging system which can text patients when their doctor is running more than 30 minutes behind.)
- Create appointment availability outside of the traditional 9-4 time slots and publicize this broadly, particularly on digital channels.
- Consider offering email newsletters packed with interesting and helpful wellness and lifestyle advice.
- If you are a traditional hospital/doctor, highlight the things you can do that an urgent care clinic can’t (rather than go head-to-head with them on things like wait times).
In other words, treat your patients like the consumers they are. They have choices as to what and how they buy services. While previous generations may have swallowed the often slow, inconvenient and opaque nature of the healthcare experience as the price they had to pay for quality care, Millennials fundamentally believe that the system is broken, sighting the following (annoying and frustrating) factors as unacceptable:
- Waiting weeks for an appointment
- Repeatedly filling out the same personal information on sheet after sheet of paper
- Sitting passively in the waiting room as a doctor runs 45 minutes behind schedule
- Having no idea what they are being charged for a particular service
Healthcare providers have a golden opportunity to address this large and important segment of the population by understanding their basic beliefs and preferences, and then addressing them straight-up with modernized services and clear channels of communication.