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The Millennial impact in healthcare

By Hsiu Mei Wong, PA business design expert, Jennifer Zheng, PA healthcare expert and Mark Summers, PA healthcare expert

Fast becoming a force to be reckoned with, Millennials (the largest living demographic age group) are shaking up industries left and right as evidenced by the “Uberification” of services. They have grown up with on-demand services like Amazon and Netflix, using them when needed and returning only when the need arises again. They live in a Customer 4.0 world where choice and hyper-connectivity create customers that are more empowered than ever. In this landscape, Millennials look for a different customer experience that focuses on collaboration, customer care, and the buying experience. Organizations can no longer afford to ignore this population which now totals 92 million people and surpasses the population of baby boomers in the US.

To be successful, organizations need to consider how to incorporate Millennial engagement as part of their strategy. This is especially relevant to healthcare organizations as traditional players fail to meet the needs and expectations of Millennials. Attracting and retaining this group is a necessity for the long-term viability of healthcare organizations.

What you need to know about Millennials:

  • The Millennial generation is the largest in history (even bigger than the baby boomers), comprising 29% of the current US population (source: Goldman Sachs)
  • They are defined as born between 1980 and 2000, making the average Millennial 26 years old
  • Millennials spend $1.3 trillion annually in the US alone, with 2.45 trillion worldwide (source: Youbrand)
  • 90% of first-time moms are Millennials and 80% of all new births are to Millennials. Moms hold 85% of household purchasing power (source: Goldman Sachs).

What does this mean to the healthcare industry?

A lot. Millennials’ influence in healthcare is huge and should not be underestimated. Not only are Millennials buying healthcare coverage, they also are seeking out providers for themselves and their families. Statistics show that more than one-third of Millennials influence the products their parents buy, which is indicative of their growing power on aging parent’s interactions and consumption of healthcare. In fact, Millennials often make care decisions on their parents’ behalf. As an employee or employer, Millennials will want to exert their own behaviors, influence, and expectations on how healthcare should be delivered, provided, and paid for. Power has shifted from companies to Millennial customers who are looking for companies that will help them achieve their outcomes.

In addition to the sheer number of Millennials, this population is now the generation with the greatest buying power, and they will spend their money with organisations that most align to their valueshealthcare services included. In the past, payers and providers have been able to set the rules of engagement. This is not an option moving forward.  

In 2015, fewer than half of all eligible workers under age 26 enrolled in their employer-provided plan, given their ability to remain on their parents’ health insurance plan through the Affordable Care Act. As these people age off their parents’ plan, they will seek coverage through their employer or exchanges. Healthcare companies must be ready to compete for their business. At this age, many start to have life events such as a pregnancy or a first surgery, and patients may look to create long-term relationships with specific doctors and hospitals. Providers who capture these consumers at their first moment of critical care and are “Millennial friendly will stand out and gain a competitive advantage.

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What does it mean to be “Millennial friendly”?

Given the extensive network of influence Millennials have, healthcare organizations need to work to attract and retain Millennials as customers. The initial step is understanding Millennials by their values, behaviors, and buying expectations, and how these affect their decision-making, company preferences, and overall buying experience expectations.

Decision-making

Because Millennials value transparency and honesty, this generation relies on input from others when it comes to making decisions. Their style is more collaborative, as they typically seek a second opinion from friends, family, and others. Word-of-mouth marketing, as well as giving and reading reviews, also tie into these values.

Millennials use technology for all it’s worth, and will seek health-related information online, including reviews of medical providers and healthcare facilities. They want easy access to medical records and the ability to easily transfer records to different medical professionals as part of their own proactive approach to health. Healthcare companies need to identify their role in Millennial decision-making and how they can increase their visibility and brand.

Customer Care

Millennials do business with companies that are responsive to their needs and whose customer service demonstrates they truly care. It is this characteristic that has Millennials moving away from big corporations they distrust and view as too powerful and profit-driven, and instead toward smaller enterprises that care about the individual and have social programs that give back to society.

Where healthcare is concerned, convenience, service, and instant gratification are must-haves for Millennials. They choose providers based on the friendliness of the staff, how easily they can get a test done, and the quality of care they receive. In addition, because of their distrust of the current healthcare system, Millennials expect transparency and flexibility in pricing. They may even forego tests or treatment if they feel pricing is unpredictable or unclear.

Buying Experience

When doing business, Millennials’ expectations of their buying experience are high. They seek out companies that take a Customer 4.0 approach where products are relevant to their universe and the outcomes they seek, including experiences that integrate with technology and social media platforms. Their buying experience should be seamless, and they do not hesitate to walk away from companies with process or system inefficiencies that slow them down.

Millennials expect convenience in everything they do; healthcare is no exception. Access to healthcare should be available 24/7, so Millennials can have online chats with providers and retail clinics whenever they want. In addition to making tests and doctor’s appointments and viewing test results online, they want to be able to conveniently check in on their phone or a kiosk when they arrive at a medical facility.

Millennials will soon be the predominant consumer of healthcare. Their entry into healthcare will drive change in areas that matter to them: decision-making, customer care, and buying experience. Healthcare organizations that adapt to these areas will attract and appeal to Millennials.

The impact of Millennials on healthcare will be tremendous. Healthcare payers and providers would do well to acknowledgeand embracetheir relevance. By understanding their motivators and buying behaviors in terms of care delivery, pricing structures, marketing, and customer service, healthcare organizations can more easily adapt processes, technology, and other solutions to meet Millennials’ needs and remain viable in a highly competitive market.

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