The millennial generation represents one quarter of the entire American population, and the U.S. Census Bureau reported that there are 83.1 million members of this demographic. This means that younger adults outnumber the baby boom generation, and as such, are key in driving trends in almost every industry.
In healthcare, millennials are demanding services that are convenient, transparent and cost-effective. At the same time, young adults have a more well-rounded understanding of what being healthy looks like, which means they want more than reactive, one-time treatments. By understanding the needs and expectations of millennials, providers can reposition policies and better serve this large segment of the population. Here are a few of the key considerations when it comes to young adults and their healthcare:
A key consideration for providers of all sizes is offering care that is easy to access. That means leveraging a practice management system that gives patients the tools to book appointments online, quickly pay medical bills and also coordinate with a health professional through email or even text messaging. Young adults in particular are used to simple interfaces when it comes to banking, paying taxes and sorting through other responsibilities, and the best patient portals cater to those expectations.
Providers also benefit from digital communication and tools. Missed appointments and unpaid bills are a messy barrier to a stable and accurate budget, and the use of platforms that eliminate these problems results in a sizeable return on investment. For practices with a lot of administrative overhead, investing in online tools can quickly make a strong impact.
Lynn O'Connor Vos, chief executive of Grey Healthcare Group, told Fortune Magazine that millennials in particular are much more proactive about their health than other generations. Young adults understand the importance of forward-facing behavior when it comes to staying fit and avoiding getting sick. Unfortunately, there are many sources online that may offer conflicting, outdated or incorrect information. Digital platforms and patient engagement initiatives will not only make a strong impression on existing or new millennial patients but can also be used to make sure young adults have the right health information.
This is important in making healthcare as a whole more effective. Expensive, reactive treatments inflate costs across the board, and on-going treatment for otherwise avoidable chronic conditions is also quite resource-intensive. Providers can work with young adults and take advantage of their willingness to be more health-conscious. By offering educational resources and working with patients, it's possible to help minimize instances of more serious illness and treatment needs.
Driving the trend for convenience and high-quality treatment options is a demand for transparency among young adults. Cost is a key consideration, and multiple studies have found that millennials are more willing than other groups to either avoid seeking healthcare services or otherwise switch a provider if they feel like their needs aren't being met. Online comparison tools and interoperable EHR networks make switching doctors easier than ever, and millennials will seek out a reputable care provider if they feel a change is necessary.
To attract disgruntled patients, providers should not only employ the most convenient health IT solutions but work to build a reputation as a provider that is honest and collaborative. This means being clear about costs, treatment options and also about recommendations or referrals.
All told, millennials are more engaged with their health than past generations, and this means providers must pivot to prepare for a patient base that is hungry for information and transparency. Likewise, because younger adults are quicker to switch providers, healthcare organizations must make use of the best available health IT systems. This accommodates current patients and also helps integrate new ones.