The millennial wave is officially upon us; in-fact they have just overtaken the baby boomers as the largest generation. This group, ranging in age from 18 to 34, is quickly becoming one of the key influencers in the healthcare industry. While they might not be taking full advantage of the healthcare options available to them (that group right now would be the baby boomer generation), they are starting to have much more influence over how the healthcare industry goes about their business.
If you told a millennial what most other generations thought of them, they might not be too happy with you. Most people think of millennials as impatient, unfocused, and spending most of their lives staring at their phones.
While the traditional millennial might be considered arrogant by some, their opinions really do matter. Their focus on improving areas of their lives with technology is beginning to be noticed by traditional and modern healthcare companies as well.
We’ve found 7 unique ways that they are really making an impact on healthcare as it stands today, and if this is any indication of what’s in store for the future, then we predict good things coming out of the healthcare industry once millennials get involved more fully.
- More Focus On Immediate, Location-Independent Care
If you’re a millennial, then you know that your phone is more than just a way for you to get in touch with friends; it’s something that connects you with almost any conceivable service and product that you can possibly want. Having quick access to healthcare is just one more thing that ‘should’ be available on-demand, and millennials are pushing for it in droves.
Companies like ZocDoc are now giving you the ability to book a doctor’s appointment right from your phone, and that isn’t even the interesting part. What is far more interesting to most millennials is the fact that patients can now get a diagnosis for many common problems from a doctor without getting off their phones at all!
Telemedicine is how this is done, and more and more services are springing up that are designed to connect patients to a doctor no matter where they are in the world. This service is only made possible through improved technologies that enable true real time high definition video and audio communications that are secure and HIPAA compliant.
The growing implementation of telemedicine services is quickly allowing patients to remove a trip to the doctor’s office scheduling an appointment altogether. Tony Zhao, the CEO of Agora, a video chat communications company, notes that:
“Millennials are demanding the transition to immediate, home-based care. That’s only effective when the implementation of your telemedicine offerings has an audio and video stream that isn’t stuttering or low quality, because that obviously ruins the patient experience. Therefore Millennials, or any generation for that matter, won’t want to use it. Making sure your telemedicine works well is integral to giving your patients what they want.”
How has immediate medical care fared so far in the marketplace?
The growth of remote appointments has skyrocketed in the past few years, with an estimated annual growth rate of 18-30% every year. With these growth numbers so far, it’s fair to say that this technology is only going to get more popular from here.
- Growth of Patient Reviews for Medical Professionals
As a millennial, we love to rate everything, and that includes the medical professionals that we see over the course of our lives. In fact, a vast majority of prospective patients will refer to these reviews before visiting a doctor for the first time.
Unlike some other things that millennials are changing, this is one change that affects all types of healthcare providers, both businesses and individuals, who can now be rated on a variety of different websites. Today, we have found that over 40% of all consumers will use social media to find their next healthcare practitioner, meaning that both practices and individuals will need to exercise extra care when working with patients. A bad experience by a patient no longer means a lost customer, but a potential black mark against your business that can really stick around.
- Immediate Care from The Palm of Your Hand
The use of apps is only going to become a bigger part of your life, and now it’s going to start to affect your healthcare as well. If you don’t already use apps to manage your healthcare, then most indications are that you soon will be. PWC estimates that mobile app usage in the healthcare industry doubled over the past two years, and with the added services that are made possible through real time communication via the mobile phone, this trend will only increase.
- Better and Faster Home-Based Care for Anything That You Need
The use of telemedicine doesn’t just have an impact on traditional medical professionals like doctors; it will also revolutionize the business of health and wellness coaches that are practicing today. Instead of working in their local areas, they will be able to work with clients all around the world using next-generation video streaming software to transport themselves into the homes of their clients and provide a far higher level of service.
Additionally, this allows more consumers to use these coaches by working with them from home, rather than traveling or resorting to communicating using text based apps like email or SMS.
- Good Faith Estimates for The Cost of Providing Medical Services
One trend that many didn’t see coming is the increased popularity of getting estimates for care provided among millennials today. This trend comes as out-of-pocket costs for medical care continue to rise. PNC estimated that unexpected/surprise bills are the number one issue facing all patients today.
Millennials may be leading the trend with 41% of them choosing to ask for estimates before care is provided, but they aren’t the only ones that are doing it. As many as 18% of the senior population is also doing this, along with 21% of baby boomers (two groups that have much higher costs than millennials).
The one downside of this new trend is that healthcare costs are still coming in above the estimates given 34% of the time, so it’s not a perfect system. In the future, this could be a market for even further disruption by the millennial ruling class.
- Greater Adoption of Electronic Services and Record Keeping
No millennial worth their stripes wants to find out that they can’t do what they want with their personal property, and this feeling easily extends to medical records. Patient care today is not what it used to be, where it took a lot of headache just to get a copy of a particular record or your entire medical history.
As a result of regulations around the use of electronic records and the portability of medical records, millennials don’t have to worry about where their medical history is because they can take it with them. The medical industry is a bit late to the party with their move toward digitization, mainly as a result of privacy concerns and strict regulation around patient records, but this trend was one that was a long time coming, and it took millennials to finally turn it into a reality.
- Movement Toward a Fee-For-Result Payment Model
A major trend that is shaping how care is provided is the view by millennials that medical care is just another quantifiable service that they can purchase (or not) based on cost, among other things.
This fee-for-outcome payment model is one that really changes the game for the medical industry, which is built around a process of providing the care based on a whole-health view of a patient, but which is also creating an environment where healthcare costs are predicted to be 19.8% of GDP in 2020. In the future, millennials are increasingly pushing for healthcare to be something that can be picked off a menu. Have a cold? That will be $40. Trying to diagnose that back pain? You’ll have to pony up $250 for that. This type of pay-for-outcome service could easily send healthcare costs back in the other direction, and fast.
Millennials aren’t a cure-all for the woes of the healthcare industry. Increasing costs and patient complaints are something that have been endured since the dawn of time. What millennials do bring to the table, however, is a mindset that the things that should be changed can be and that technology can make things both easier and less expensive.
For the modern healthcare professional, it can be easy to sit back and care for patients using only traditional methods and practices, but that could alienate a growing percentage of your patient base. A better option is to look into some of the growing technologies and see how they can improve your business today. Services like telemedicine can offer a new way for your business to see patients, improve your revenue, and increase patient satisfaction. A change to the way things are done in the medical industry doesn’t have to cause added pain for your practice, as long as you take the necessary steps to remain ahead of the curve and start catering to the millennials that will be heading to your office (or your tablet) in greater numbers with each passing year.
Has your practice taken steps to provide the kind of care the Millennial generation is demanding?