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Millennials force healthcare in digital direction

Bruce Haupt, President and Chief Executive Officer, ClearBalance

Millennials raised in the digital age with the convenience of online services are driving healthcare providers to change how they engage with patients and improve the customer service aspect of care. While older generations value in-person communication and cultivating relationships with medical professionals, millennials desire a different approach.

Accustomed to instant gratification, millennials don’t want to phone in for an appointment and then wait weeks to see a doctor. Nor do they like to be locked in to health plan network restrictions. They often will search online for healthcare information, even before seeing a doctor.

A key finding in a global survey of over 3,000 people is that millennials tend to select doctors based on referrals from family and friends. But while older patients express dissatisfaction directly to doctors, millennials share unsatisfactory experiences with friends, often on a social network. The survey also revealed that this generation is likely to trust social feedback, handing providers another challenge. Not only do providers need an online presence, they must monitor and manage their social reputation.

Millennials aren’t tied to the notion that they must have one specific doctor; they don’t develop personal relationships with them. For standard checkups and consultations, some don’t feel the need to see a doctor at all, opting instead to see a physician assistant or nurse practitioner.

They don’t want to spend hours at a doctor’s office for minor medical complaints. Part of this is due to millennials being generally healthy; pressing health concerns typically are for accidents or injuries rather than chronic illnesses. But it’s also reflective of how they consume goods and services. Why shop at the mall when online is more convenient and expedient?

As degreed professionals in executive positions, millennials have good private insurance. However, with rising healthcare costs and patient pay responsibility, they are covering more of the bottom line for medical services, like everyone else. As a result, they are extremely price conscious and demand the best care. According to a report from PwC’s Health Research Institute, millennials age 18 to 34 are most likely to ask for a discount, ask for a cheaper treatment option, request a price check or appeal an insurance decision.

In order to stay competitive, providers need to focus on attracting this population. Their spending power, behaviors and choices have set the stage for digitally oriented generations to come.