Yesterday’s Patients, Today’s Parents: Pediatrics & Millennials

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In 2016, 82 percent of U.S. births were to millennial parents, those born between 1981 and 1996. As millennials transition into parenthood or grow their families, it’s critical that pediatricians understand how to attract and engage this group. Only 65 percent of millennial parents use the same pediatrician for a year; understanding millennials’ unique needs and preferences may help pediatricians counter this trend by maintaining patient engagement and enhancing their relationships with patients and their families. 

Market research indicates that millennials gravitate toward companies that are direct, authentic, and high-touch according to research from Kalix Marketing. This generation is more accustomed to the framework of healthcare consumerism. Therefore, by understanding what millennials seek as consumers, pediatricians can gain insight into what this group desires in a healthcare experience. 

Digital Tools for Digital Natives

It is no surprise that millennials love technology tools. From social media to Netflix, this demographic is plugged in and that connectivity includes parenting. 

Two of the key tools to have in your arsenal are telehealth and patient portals. Together, they form a basic digital platform that equips patients with convenient self-service capabilities. Data shows that 40 percent of millennials consider telehealth important when selecting insurance. Pediatricians often use telemedicine for behavioral health, but work for nutrition counseling, lactation consulting, and managing chronic care. Telehealth allows pediatricians to conduct visits with patients, but also connect easily with parents to answer questions. By using telehealth, you help keep patients away from walk-in clinics or urgent care centers that may lead to fragmented care and lower patient volumes. 

Patient portals offer parents the option to access vital healthcare information easily and immediately. Portals often support appointment scheduling and appointment reminders via text or email, which are helpful when considering millennial parents’ hectic schedules. Another key feature is online payments, including payment plan options, which caters to this demographic’s familiarity with online subscription services and payment apps, such as Venmo. Since many millennials participate in the “gig economy” and have irregular working hours, a portals’ secure messaging feature will enable parents to communicate with you when it’s convenient and maintain open lines of communication. 

Rethinking Care Between Visits

Building a social media presence is a great strategy for pediatricians. The average millennial spends more than two-and-a-half hours each day on social media. Research from Chief Marketer shows that “43 percent of millennial parents regularly seek parenting advice via social networks.” Data from Crowdtap found that 97 percent of millennial moms and 93 percent of millennial dads regard social media as “somewhat” to “extremely” helpful to their parenting. Of course, reliance on social media has a drawback; although social media includes lots of helpful parenting information, not all is accurate and 44 percent of millennial parents are actually overwhelmed with the amount of parenting information out there.

Your social media presence can establish you as a trusted physician thought leader and voice of reason. By publishing evidence-based information and your own clinical expertise, parents can share your content and thereby reduce parental “information overload” anxieties while advertising your services. Not all content has to be related to medicine. Sharing informational how-to videos or educational content for parents and children can watch together is a great strategy to appeal to millennials. Data from Google shows that “86 percent of millennial dads turn to YouTube for guidance on key parenting topics.” 

By optimizing your digital tools and strategy, you can better connect with millennial parents while building your patient volumes and nurturing relationships with families. However, keep in mind one key — and paradoxical — statistic when engaging millennial parents. Data from the Pew Research Center indicates that millennials are the most diverse generation to date. As such, their preferences can vary widely, so make sure you are mindful of their unique individual preferences and avoid viewing them as one homogenous group.

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