Understanding Millennials: Two Vital Statistics for PCPs

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Born between 1981 and 1996, millennials are the largest, most diverse generation in the United States. They have tremendous buying power at $3.4 trillion per year, and by 2020 they will make the majority of healthcare decisions in America.
Millennials are plagued by stereotypes like binging Netflix, scrolling endlessly through social media, and spending so much money on avocado toast that we’ll never be able to buy a house.
But, if we move past these barbs and get down to two actual statistics, an important story emerges, one with huge implications for doctors and healthcare as a whole.

#1: 93% of millennials DO NOT schedule preventive care visits

There are many factors that contribute to this alarming statistic.
To start, it’s important to recognize that many millennials have low salaries and student debt. Additionally, 72 percent of millennials have an inadequate understanding of the Affordable Care Act’s compensation for preventive visits. As a result, the prospect of spending money on a health visit for a non-urgent health concern is intimidating and may be avoided due to perceived costs.
Also, millennials tend to have a different view of what “health” means and this impacts the way they manage their health. Goldman Sachs reports the following:

  • Millennials are twice as likely to define “health” as eating well and exercising, compared to baby boomers.
  • Millennials schedule 19 percent fewer primary care appointments than baby boomers.
  • Only 29 percent of millennials consider health “not being sick” whereas 46 percent of baby boomers adopt that definition.

In addition to these different definitions of what health even is, when millenials aren’t feeling well, they’re more likely to self-diagnose and self-treat or visit an acute care facility. This trend highlights’ millennials preference for immediate conveniences such as shorter wait times and transparent costs at the expense of long-term benefits like a trusting, ongoing doctor-patient relationship.
As a PCP, you can use this knowledge of millennial beliefs to your advantage. Millennials are twice as likely to research providers online before scheduling a visit, make sure you’re visible online and represented positively. Whenever possible, mimic minute clinics and offer cost estimates: 60 percent of millennials consider cost among their reasons to leave a provider and 41 percent avoided treatment because they felt it was too expensive. Finally, be aware of millennials’ holistic definition of health, lean into it, and account for any misrepresentations they have about what “good health” is or isn’t.
By taking a personalized route, you can win over this picky, stubborn, but nonetheless loyal demographic.

#2: Two-thirds of millennials would abandon their provider for one that offers online scheduling

Millennials are the first generation of “digital natives,” meaning those who were raised with technology and, as a result, possess an intuitive grasp of it. For this reason, millennials are more reliant on their devices for reviews, scheduling, exploring their healthcare decisions. Sixty-six percent will have diligently researched their options before making a healthcare decision. That means their first impression of you and your practice is often made before they step into your office and meet you face-to-face. Even once they’ve made their decision, you can still lose them if your online offerings are not up to their standards; a staggering 92 percent are likely to switch providers if they’re not entirely satisfied with their current one.
Adopting a suite of digital tools that includes an online patient portal where patients can schedule appointments, pay bills, view test results, and communicate directly can help to develop loyalty among this group.  
Also establishing thought leadership through social media is very important. Being engaged online can foster awareness for your practice and build a digital community of these high-tech, brand-loyal consumers. In order to ensure that these research-prone millennials have an accurate, positive perspective of your practice, maintain and optimize your online reputation among anonymous review sites such as Angie’s List and Yelp.
Finally, this busy generation is always in search of time-saving, hassle-free innovations. One of the new frontiers in healthcare is telehealth. Nearly half of millennials rank a work-life balance as more important to their health than regular medical exams. In other words, time spent commuting to the doctor’s office is time not spent working or studying for grad school, and therefore may be deemed of lesser import.
Align your practice with this demographic’s demand and position yourself against big-name competitors such as Teladoc and Talkspace. With telehealth, you can add and retain on-the-go millennial patients, while also streamlining payment collections with in-app capabilities and reducing no-shows and late appointments, all of which can increase your revenue and efficiency.

Putting It All Together

Factoring these statistics into your practice can help you capture a slice of the 80 million millennials in America. While not currently the case, primary care providers could become a major player in millennials’ healthcare. After all, this generation is distrustful of large corporations, value independence, and feeling that their voices are heard — a trait that can be dwarfed by large, impersonal health systems.
Also worth considering is that many millennials are in new cities and therefore have no doctor-patient relationship in their new home. This is an opportunity for you to secure this relationship, one that in a few years’ time may involve a spouse and children who could also join your patient population.
You may need to exert additional efforts in the beginning, but the time spent “courting” millennials will be worth its effort in the loyalty they show.
Bonus Resource: One major problem with millennial patients — and one that could cost your practice a lot of money — is no-shows. Learn how to reduce millennial no-shows and increase your earnings by downloading our free whitepaper!

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