Millennials—the generation of people between the ages of 18 and 34—make up more than one-quarter of the total U.S. population, and their decisions affect every industry, including healthcare. Their combined purchasing power continues to revolutionize healthcare access and best practices. Instead of visiting physicians for traditional care, millennials are more apt to visit alternative care facilities, such as urgent care centers, freestanding emergency departments, and retail clinics.
Raised with a strong understanding and reliance on technology, this generation turns to the internet, smart devices, and social media as alternatives to traditional healthcare. However, their expectations do not render your practice obsolete. Clinical office managers that understand what millennials expect can ensure their practice’s operation and survival.
1. Millennials Turn to Technology First
Millennials engage with the world through technology. The various app stores hold thousands of healthcare apps, ranging from mental health texts to acute care techniques and beyond.
Aside from apps, millennials turn to online websites, scouring healthcare websites and other sources for information. They want to find the answer immediately. If the answer can be found online, they will not visit a clinic unless other expectations are met as well.
2. Healthcare Cybersecurity Affects Their Decisions Too
The most publicized healthcare breaches range from major health insurers to pharmacies, lengthening the level of distrust in healthcare among millennials. Cybersecurity affects millennials’ decisions in where they receive care.
Cybersecurity has an added level of importance as more clinics turn to online patient portals and advanced electronic health records (EHR) to connect with millennials. Since millennials turn to technology as the leading resource for their care, individual practices must implement stringent cybersecurity measures.
3. They Scrutinize a Practice’s Online Presence
A practice’s online presence includes all websites, social media accounts, third-party publications, and online forums. The online presence gives practices an opportunity to present their information and build a business case for why millennials need care, especially preventive care.
Also, reviews of the practice will make or break millennials’ perception of a practice. Healthcare practices must make their online presence a top priority and ensure millennials can ask questions, getting something beyond the annals of Wikipedia and similar other sources.
4. Social Media Impacts Millennials’ Decision to Visit a Healthcare Practitioner
While a practice’s social media presence is a portion of the online presence, a robust social media presence deserves its own recognition. Millennials will turn to social media for more information, including the dirt that may exist. Any type of dissatisfaction or issue can become a thread of discontent on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Members of this generation will look to see how practitioners respond to issues on social media, digging through the oldest of posts to see how well the practice fairs in the court of public opinion. Frequent, engaging posts, responding to visitor questions—excluding the conversations that would require a confidential setting—and highlighting the social media presence will define whether millennials choose to schedule an appointment. One final thought on that note, clinics must have the ability to schedule visits online!
5. Millennials Expect Use of Telemedicine
Scheduling a visit to a clinic online is a great start, but convenience characterizes this generation. They want to see a doctor through an app or an online portal. Unless laboratory testing and a physical exam are necessary for diagnosis, millennials will not darken the doorstep of a traditional clinic.
The use of telemedicine also carries benefits for practitioners, which may include the ability to see more people and lower overhead costs. More practices must move into the digital age by connecting through telemedicine, even blending outpatient lab services with online visits to create an engaging, effective experience.
6. Timeliness and Cost Are of the Essence
Urgent care centers, retail health clinics, and freestanding emergency departments have become a cornerstone of the modern healthcare system. Millennials want fast, affordable care. While older generations view visiting a practice as a way to prevent illness, millennials view healthcare as a consequence of illness.
As many as 41% of millennials request and receive care estimates before undergoing treatment, and up to 54% of delay or cancel planned visits due to costs. Instead of visiting a traditional practice, 34% of millennials will visit a retail clinic; 24% will visit urgent, acute care clinics. The distinction lies in the perceived ease of access and affordability. Practices that demonstrate their ease of access and affordability to millennials in advance will be the clinic that they visit.
7. Millennials Want Holistic Healthcare
Holistic healthcare encompasses all types of care that millennials use instead of visiting an actual practice, as well as the traditional ways to access healthcare. An effective holistic approach encompasses their psychological, spiritual and physical needs. Millennials also expect the use of natural alternatives to medicine in their care.
Alternatives may include natural remedies, herbal supplements, meditation, engaging in a hobby, physical exercise and acupuncture, not pharmaceuticals. Healthcare professionals must incorporate alternatives into their online content and care plans.
8. They Have a Genuine Concern for the Environment
Environmental concerns rank among the most influential factors affecting millennials’ decisions. Members of this generation are more likely to visit healthcare facilities with a public record of making eco-conscious decisions. They support tougher initiatives for protecting the environment and regulating the disposal of waste.
In fact, 80% want to work for companies with such track records, and they are willing to pay extra for it. Eco-conscious behaviors among millennials further the cause of healthcare professions by creating a healthy environment, reducing the risk of illness. Given millennials’ passion for cost-effective healthcare, this point offers an opportunity to bridge the disconnect.
9. Millennials Believe Healthcare’s Flawed
Millennials witnessed an iconic shift in how people access healthcare with the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Their views have remained skeptical at best. The horror stories of sarcastically inflated prices for medications and healthcare permeate the generation. Their belief derives from this and the ongoing argument over what type of healthcare people have a right to access.
Millennials view healthcare as an industry focused on profitability, not caring for your fellow man. However, they still trust doctors the most, so reversing that belief is key. Ultimately, it is up to the practitioners to change the narrative to show that they do care through more engaging, innovative, and dedicated experiences.
Give Millennials a Reason to Trust Your Practice With the Right Online Strategy
Although these expectations place a heavy burden on healthcare facilities, practitioners can use the demands of millennials to build a rapport with them. This rapport begins even before they ever step through the door, so practices that get ahead and in front of millennials’—on the internet—can turn the tide as the industry evolves. In fact, restoring the rapport between healthcare and millennials will lower the economic burden of healthcare and lead to better quality and continuity of care.