Millennials as consumers of healthcare

r-MILLENNIALS-STRESS-large570It is estimated that there are between 72-80 million in the demographic segment known as Millennials.  They are digital natives that grew up with the Internet and they are more likely to shop for healthcare and switch providers if they don’t like what their healthcare providers. They are also influenced by reputation and advertising, but they will fact check health products.  

Millennials use the Internet to get as much information as they can on various health conditions and are more likely to ask their doctor about health information.  They don’t want healthcare to be one way they very much want collaboration and they don’t understand why they can’t communicate more with their doctors via social media and using mobile apps.

40% of Millennials use social media for any health related purpose and 16% use social media to learn more about a specific health problem. While some have described Millennials as self-centered 14% of them use social media to offer motivation and support to other who have problems or health questions.

According to Mike and Morley one of the distinctive traits of Millennials (born roughly 1982-2003) is a constant feeling of being pressured. Thanks to their parents setting high expectations for them, Millennials consider life a series of hoops to be jumped through.   As a result, almost half of Millennials (45%) report feeling nervous due to stress at least monthly, and more than half (52%) say that their stress levels have increased over the last five years. But Millennials are also demonstrating a much healthier approach to dealing with this problem than older generations, reinforcing their reputation as the best-behaved American generation in decades.

Millennials are the stressed out generation
Millennials are the stressed out generation

According to Pew Internet exercise is a big part of the lives of most Millennials. More than half say they got some kind of vigorous exercise, such as jogging, biking or working out at a gym, in the 24 hours before they were interviewed for the survey. Gen Xers are somewhat less likely to exercise daily—48% of those surveyed said they had gotten vigorous exercise in the previous 24 hours. Roughly four-in-ten Boomers (42%) and members of the Silent generation (39%) say they exercised in the past 24 hours. The differences across age groups are likely due at least in part to life-cycle effects. Not only are Millennials younger and healthier, but they also are less likely than their older counterparts to be married or have children, and so probably have more time available for exercise. Among Millennials, men are much more likely than women to exercise: 63% of men ages 18-29 say they got vigorous exercise in the past 24 hours, compared with 48% of women. The gender gap among older adults is significantly smaller.

One of the most alarming stats about Millennials is that they are open to sharing medications.  For them, it’s a way to help someone out and avoid the time and costs of visiting a physician and they don’t think sharing medications is any big deal.

If physicians want to engage this generation, they are going to have to learn to use social media a lot more and allow Millennials to contact them digitally.  Since Millennials are exercising a lot they may not feel the need to see a physician when a health problem occurs but obviously this be costly to patients strategically.

When it comes to solving health care problems Millennials want them fixed as quickly as possible.  If a pill or shot can do the trick than it’s likely they will choose that option.  However, if their health gets better with medication they are more likely to become less compliant as they feel “my health problem is over”.

At 80 million people the Millennial generation is the strongest market segment in America.  Healthcare marketers have to understand the differences between each generation to ensure their marketing remains relevant if they are targeting Millennials.