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How Should Doctors Adjust Their Practice for the Millennial Population?

Posted by Michael Greiwe, MD | November 22, 2019 |
Michael Greiwe, MD

The millennials are here and your practice will need to make some adjustments. Today, the millennial population numbers around 73 million and have overtaken the baby boomer generation as the largest demographic cohort in the United States. According to Pew Research, this youthful group will peak at 76.2 million by 2036.

Why should healthcare providers care about this population exchange? The answer is that this population is driving significant shifts in how we provide care. From minute clinics to telemedicine, online doctor reviews, and pricing transparency, the millennial generation is driving changes that we guarantee will affect the success of your practice in the near future.

Who Are The Millennials?

Pew Research designates the Millennial population as born between 1981 and 1996. This year they surpassed the baby boomers as the largest living population in the United States. They are the largest generation in the American labor force, and, although not yet the largest consumer of U.S. healthcare, they appear to have strong expectations of the system and their place in it. Forbes recently reported on the latest trends affecting millennial healthcare consumption. They include:

  • A preference for on-demand healthcare. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 45% of 18 to 29 year olds and 28% of those 30 to 49 have no primary care provider (PCP). This is a huge difference from the baby boomers; 85% have a PCP. The same survey found one-third of millennials prefers the speed and convenience of urgent care or minute clinic to a more professional and established long-term relationship with a PCP.
  • Researching their treatment and their providers. The latest poll numbers show 55% of millennials say they trust the healthcare information they research online as much as what they hear from a doctor and 38% say they trust their peers more than medical professionals. There is a huge level of skepticism among this population in contrast to older populations who have been more likely to trust clinicians. Millennials are twice as likely to act upon health advice they find online. One-half of millennials also use online reviews to select a provider.
  • Demanding upfront cost estimates. Price transparency is becoming an increasingly hot topic in healthcare today, in part, driven by the millennial population’s demand for cost estimates just like any other service. This may be the first generation in history that will check prices at multiple healthcare providers before selecting one. This population will also forgo care because of the expense.
  • Using apps for their healthcare. This trend goes beyond digital electronic health records or an app to schedule a healthcare checkup, the majority of millennials today want an option for a virtual healthcare visit and would choose telehealth over an in-person visit if it were available. The millennial population is the first digital native demographic cohort, expecting online appointment scheduling, simplified digital communication and the immediacy of a readily available Wi-Fi connection as a natural part of their existence.

As the largest population today, millennials will have an important effect on healthcare models in the coming years. This is creating changes already being felt by every large health system and every small practice in the country. How will this population change your practice in the coming years? Forbes calls it the “$3.4 trillion question.”

Seven Ways Millennials Will Change Your Practice

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Deloitte released an extensive study of the millennial generation this year. They found an extensive level of skepticism around institutions and their motives. This extends to healthcare, where the current traditional models of service delivery will not capture the purchasing power of this population.

Healthcare providers that fail to adapt to millennial demands will see a bottom line impact in the coming years. For healthcare administrators and solo practitioners, here are some of the millennial attitudes that will likely affect traditional delivery methods in the coming years:

  • Millennials want quick healthcare. This generation is accustomed to the immediacy of the Internet, and they want their services quickly and efficiently. Millennials are less likely to seek out a relationship with a family practice doctor, instead, turning to the shorter wait times at minute clinics or in a virtual telemedicine visit. Clinicians offering alternatives to the traditional on-site visit will do well with this population cohort.
  • Millennials will research your facilities before selecting you. They will also listen to the service reviews of other patients before making a decision about using your practice. Healthcare providers must make the effort to monitor their online presence and respond to negative reviews while also building a social network for your practice.
  • Millennials are cost-savvy. Even when covered by insurance, this population recognizes that numerous competing providers in the marketplace can replicate healthcare service delivery. This population will switch loyalties based on cost and healthcare providers should not be surprised when millennials question a service based on what the bill will be.
  • Millennials will avoid the doctor if it isn’t convenient. We know this population seeks information online before even considering an appointment. They also expect a quick, cost-effective visit. Medical practice administrators should carefully consider their competition in the marketplace, including the local urgent care, and consider workflow changes to improve the speed of service delivery.
  • Millennials are early technology adopters. This population sees online appointment setting and communication as a natural extension of their digital connectivity. Providers failing to offer these conveniences will be viewed as archaic. From wearable sensors to online portals to telemedicine, this population is influencing the use of new digital tools in every major health system in the country.

To become the preferred provider for the millennial population, healthcare providers must make the transition to a more consumer-savvy retail mindset. This simple fact of the millennial population is that they are aware of the multitude of choices they have in the healthcare marketplace. For your practice to compete service delivery teams must look closely at your care delivery models and how you communicate with this generation. Prioritizing transparency and the ease and convenience of appointments, embracing technology innovation and tools like telemedicine, as well as engaging more closely in social media are all ways for your practice to excel in the coming years.

For orthopedic providers, OrthoLive offers an easy way to engage with millennials by offering telemedicine as an option. Our service is fully compliant, affordable, and customizable. Talk with the OrthoLive team today about how your practice can make use of these tools to attract more millennials in the future.

Topics: "telehealth", "telemedicine", millennial, 2019 trends, 2020 healthcare

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