What Do Millennials Want From Their Medical Care?

Photo of a healthcare provider looking at two computer screens.

Now that they’ve largely reached adulthood, Millennials are becoming an influential segment of the culture. As both patients and consumers, they need to be reckoned with on their own terms.

It’s a given that Millennials grew up with the Internet, social media, instant messaging and mobile devices. This has had a significant effect on how they operate in regard to health care. Here are some tips to understanding, and meeting the needs of, this group of patients.

Digital access. This generation is deeply in support of telemedicine, such as video chats, with a Salesforce.com survey finding that 60% wanted it. Many also have expressed an interest in using a mobile app for setting up appointments, reviewing records and managing preventive care. Millennials also are big users of wearable devices that can share data with their doctors. As a response to these factors, boost your use of digital technologies, such as websites, patient portals, social media and apps.

Varied sources. More than any other generation, Millennials research various sources — often online — not just relying on their physicians for medical information. As most doctors know, this can be helpful but also may be an obstacle to good health decision making. Encourage these patients to use good sources and, when in doubt, to ask you. In addition, Millennials are more likely to trust patient reviews on the Internet and may go online to rate your practice.

Cost transparency. Millennials are much more likely than other age groups to ask for discounts or cheaper treatment options and research their health care costs. Consider posting costs on your website for some of your most common services. Also offer online payment options.

Lack of primary care physicians. In a 2017 Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) survey, 67% of Millennials had a primary care physician, lower than Gen Xers (78%) and Baby Boomers (85%). Some analysts think this is because Millennials are shifting to taking control of their own health care. Or it may simply be that this age group is a healthier demographic and isn’t bothering to visit doctors until they’re sick.

In any case, Millennials don’t like to wait for appointments and are more likely to go to a retail clinic for immediate service if it takes too long to get an appointment. You may need to offer a variety of office hours, such as early mornings, late evenings and weekends, to avoid losing patients to walk-in clinics. This may require that your practice hire more physicians, physicians’ assistants or nurse practitioners to offer more flexibility.

Millennials are, of course, growing older and their needs may change over time. But they’re currently driving a consumer trend in health care that demands easier access, convenience and flexibility.

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