My mother likes to talk about how the Baby Boomer generation changed everything, and they did. But my generation also is changing how the world works.
Millennials, those born between 1982 and 2000, now number 83.1 million people in the United States and exceed the 75.4 million Babyboomers alive today, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. We represent more than a quarter of the U.S. population, and Mintel estimates we’ll spend more than $1.4 trillion a year by 2020.
We’re a big group, and, just like the Babyboomers, we’re molding the world into our image, and our generation-specific habits are affecting how things work, namely in healthcare.
1. Greater technology use
Millennials are the first generation that grew up with the Internet and mobile technology. We’re old pros with computers, and we expect that everyone else will be the same…including doctors.
Right now, many Millennials shun healthcare because they’re young and healthcare is expensive. But as they use medical facilities more, they’ll demand greater technical savvy from their healthcare providers. This includes online health portals, more self-serve options, online scheduling, electronic medical record review, online payment options, and electronic services nobody has yet invented.
Roughly 7% of Millennials want their doctors to use mobile technology for information sharing and making appointments, the consultancy HIT noted last year.
I’m among that group; I actively use e-health portals when my medical providers offer them.
2. Immediate care
Time is money. No generation understands this better than Millennials since they live in a 24-hour world where telecommuting is common and work-life balance is a constant struggle. With this mentality, healthcare should happen quickly and with minimal wait.
Millennials are twice as likely as Babyboomers to prefer retail clinics and acute care facilities for the speed and efficiency they deliver, a PNC Healthcare study reported last year.
Hospitals need faster turnaround for the Millennial generation. One example is the Cleveland Clinic, a hospital I use when I’m visiting my parents. The Cleveland Clinic markets to my generation by not only enabling us to schedule an appointment by email, but also offering same-day appointments. They serve roughly a million same-day appointments each year.
3. Telemedicine adoption
Even better than same-day appointments is remote appointments where Millennials can get medical care without moving from the laptop on their desk. I telecommute to work, so why shouldn’t I also telecommute for routine medical appointments?
Roughly 60% of Millennials showed interest in video conferencing with their physician from home, according to a report put out by Salesforce.com last year. This could be why BCC Research predicts that the market for remote monitoring and telemedicine applications will reach $27.3 billion by the end of the year, double its total in 2011.
Of course, though, healthcare facilities must get the tech right.
“Millennials won’t accept choppy or disjointed video from their healthcare provider like they do with Skype,” noted Tony Zhao in a recent blog post, founder of real-time communications provider, Agora.io. “They expect reliability from any service where they’re paying significant money.”
4. Health and wellness coaching
Personal improvement is part and parcel of the Millennial generation. They lifehack. They tweak their routines. They research on the internet—and they hire coaches when needed.
Personal coaches are not just for the rich when it comes to Millennials. Many of my generation are improving their lifestyle and working to get healthier through coaches that augment traditional healthcare practitioners. These coaches serve as middlemen between patient and doctor, helping their clients with weight management, eating habits, physical fitness, alternative therapies, and mental health issues.
I am of course wholeheartedly support this trend; I’m not just a Millennial, I’m also a relationship coach who serves my age cohort with emotional health advice.
5. Consumer-oriented services
Millennials use consumer technology in the office, and they also are turning healthcare into a consumer business.
More than three-quarters of Millennials look at online reviews before selecting a physician, according to HIT. Half of them also use online review sites such as Yelp and HealthGrades for learning more about their potential medical provider, PNC Healthcare found.
Further, word of mouth is important. A recent study by Communispace Health, Healthcare Without Borders, found that Millennials listen to their peers when selecting a doctor, and are comfortable sharing their medical information online via patient networks. This forces healthcare facilities to listen more to their patients.
I always pour over review sites before picking a doctor in a new city, and I can’t understand why anyone would use the doctor directories my insurance provider mails each year—they just contain names and addresses! Who can use that for doctor selection?
6. Fee-for-Outcome payment model
Medical sticker shock is a thing with Millennials. They’ve never known affordable healthcare; all they know is a healthcare system where costs expand faster than inflation.
As such, this generation is pressing for a different model of payment.
First of all, they want estimates up front. PNC reports that roughly 41% of Millennials request a cost estimate before undergoing treatment. This is far beyond the 18% of seniors who request an estimate and the 21% of Babyboomers.
More to the point, though, Millennials are demanding accountability from their healthcare providers. As Millennials increase their healthcare use, they are asking for a payment model that rewards quality of care instead of quantity. These models include shared savings, bundled payment, and partial capitation, for instance.
If I’m a contract worker who gets paid based on my output, it only seems right that I expect the same thing from my doctor.
So while it is true that the Baby Boom generation changed the world, the Millennial generation also is making itself felt. One industry that’s feeling the pressure is healthcare. Whether through more technology or increased accountability, healthcare providers must take us into account. Has the influx of Millennials changed how your practice works? If so, how?