What Millennials will do to healthcare (and why you should care)

Jan 31, 2018

Just another article about how Millennials stink and how they are ruining everything. Right? *Insert eye roll* While I disagree with this outlook on Millennials, possibly from personal bias, no one can ignore the fact that this generation is edging their way into the decision maker’s seat as they are now the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. Their buying power is growing as both consumers and as professionals.

Working their way through markets like bulls in a china shop, Millennials have changed/killed/rebuilt industries like transportation, retail, healthcare and may be credited for creating the IoT (Internet of Things). B2B companies will soon have to face the music and adjust as Millennials will inevitably change their industry too, that is, if their world hasn’t already been flipped on its head.

Here are 4 trends healthcare will see as Millennials make their way through the industry, and how health IT companies and health systems can relieve the pain.

#1 – They take it personally

The problems Millennials have encountered in healthcare themselves are now fueling their drive to fix it. Growing up in a consumer’s economy where customer service and convenience is expected at every turn, it’s no secret healthcare has been behind the curve of this trend-turned-tradition.

One out of five people surveyed by PNC listed unexpected/surprise bills as the number one billing-related issue. With out-of-pocket costs on the rise, millennials are more inclined (41%) to request and receive estimates before undergoing treatment. Only 18% of seniors and 21% of boomers reported asking for or receiving information on costs upfront.

Health IT companies that can show the Millennial decision-maker how their product improves their bottom line and fixes a problem they know personally will be the winners. The patient experience plus revenue generator should be an attractive buy for this generation.

#2 – Delight Millennials or face their wrath

This is probably where we Millennials get a bad rap. Or a least one of the many ways where we have supposedly ruined everything. It’s not so much that we need to be delighted because we are spoiled brats; rather, we grew up in a time of customer service innovation. Combine that with the social boom where anyone and everyone could have their voice heard and it creates both opportunity and risk. If we enjoy something, or worse, if we hate something, we know exactly how to get the message out to the masses.

Millennials opinions as customers are no longer limited to their personal social circles. The real danger or potential danger is that they think to tell the masses first. Their parents generation might go on Facebook after a few days and leave a review but, Millennials have already Snapchatted the problem to their peers, tweeted at you and your competitor, complained on Reddit, dropped a one star on Yelp, Facebook and Google, and started following your competition on Instagram.

This generation (and those that come after) take online reviews very seriously. Keeping a positive brand sentiment and the ability to track or improve it will be key for health systems and healthcare IT companies.

#3 – They won’t conform to traditional healthcare

While having a regular physician may be the best for care, it’s not the best for convenience. Millenials expect doctors to be able to see all of their medical history at a moment’s notice and pick up wherever the last physician(s) left off. Their abandoned shopping cart follows them around for their entire life. Why can’t their health records? While it may be just a pipe dream to those who actually interact with EHRs, the complicated problems with interoperability are not well known to the public.

With little to no understanding of interoperability issues, staying loyal is more of a cost than a benefit. Options in telemedicine and doctor finding tools make it more convenient and cost-effective for Millennials to stray from their primary care physician. They can go anywhere that their insurance will cover, so why only go to their PCP during work hours?

Millennials are 31% more likely than their colleagues ages 35 and up to feel uncomfortable leaving work for preventive care appointments. Health IT companies navigating this process are attractive to Millennials and health systems looking to retain the healthy young clientele.

#4 – STOP and think before jumping on a trend

Facebook live streams, podcasts, Instagram accounts and the expensive mobile app are just a few examples of trends that need to be understood before they are implemented. Forcing apps when most Millennials have limited mobile space and few health needs is a cringe-worthy problem I have seen too many times. Baby boomers and Gen Xers certainly see these apps differently and could be a better market to target.

Do your research. Ask your target market if there is already a solution that solves the problem. Figure out how to make it better. Don’t just think outside the box, erase the box and start thinking. Uber didn’t help the taxi industry find customers easier. They changed the resource, workforce and access to transportation.

As this generation makes its way through healthcare, I expect to see many changes that could be painful. Health systems and health IT companies will have adjust to the needs of the new decision makers, and disruption as we know it will be disrupted.

Jenna Warner

Jenna brings a wide range of experience in business and marketing paired with a fresh perspective on the health IT industry. She launched her professional career in the non-profit space with the Muscular Dystrophy Association. While there she became well-versed in a broad range of healthcare topics, participating in patient interactions as well as organizing fundraising campaigns. She provides Amendola clients with creative social media planning and research, content management and media relations. In her collegiate career, Jenna was an award-winning mentor for business students sharing her passion for marketing and success. She honed her skills with several agency internships and a semester-long consulting project. She led her team in creating the market research and entrance proposal that was presented to the company in Italy. Her "can do attitude" got her to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in August 2016 and she has the same drive at work. She graduated from Millikin University with a B.S. in Marketing.