Who is the Millennial patient?
The average Millennial patient grew up with the Internet and smart phones, so their approach to healthcare will be much different than that of a typical Baby Boomer. With instant access to health information online, Millennials are more likely to compare physicians, health plan costs and prescriptions before stepping foot in a doctor’s office.
Convenience is a major factor Millennials take into consideration when planning their health care needs. As more young adults interact with today’s healthcare system, the industry will find itself facing a more sophisticated and demanding clientele.
According to a PNC Healthcare survey, Millennials only see their primary care physician 61% of the time. And according to ZocDoc, the number of Millennials not scheduling preventive care visits – at all – may be as high at 93%.
In addition, this generation finds physically going to the doctor’s office an inconvenience. In most cases, they’ll only see a healthcare professional when they get sick. What’s more, is that they will choose to visit a retail clinic over scheduling a doctor’s appointment because of the speed and convenience.
Technology’s role in Millennial healthcare
Convenience aside, Millennials not only value the various ways that technology impacts their daily lives, they actively seek it out in the healthcare experience. For instance, a study showed that 74% of Millennials look for the ability to book doctor appointments and pay bills online.
They are also most interested in mobile devices, mobile apps and wearables as they relate to monitoring their overall well-being. New digital channels like online health portals, email, and text messaging are growing in popularity as these patients become more mobile and digitally connected.
In fact, the same study reported that 60% of Millennials support the use of telehealth options to eliminate in-person health visits, and 71% would like to have their provider use an app to book appointments, share health data and manage preventive care.
What doctors can do to attract them
For physician practices to attract Millennial patients, they must develop an approach that encourages this audience to choose their practice over retail clinics, OTC prescriptions, and other community options. This may involve incorporating a few of the following tactics:
Improve your website: is your website mobile-friendly? Have you invested in SEO (search engine optimization)? Is your contact information and hours of operation easily accessible? These are just a few things to consider to help improve the look and feel of your site.
Embrace social media: it’s a fact that social media is a huge part of Millennials’ lives. If your practice has yet to adopt social media, now’s the time. That doesn’t mean you have to sign up for Snapchat or add GIFs to your website. It means establishing a social presence where patients can learn more about you, your staff and your practice.
Online appointment scheduling: consider adding a section on your website that allows patients to book appointments online. It’s fast, convenient and frees up your office’s telephone lines.
Flexible hours: since practices seem to be losing younger patients to minute clinics, it may behoove you to add additional hours of operation. Consider adding weekend hours or extended evening hours for those patients who may not have the flexibility to take off during the workweek.
Encourage feedback: sometimes the best way to learn what your patients want is to simply ask them. Encourage your patients to provide feedback via email, online reviews or by filling out a comment card. Remember, the feedback isn’t for your ego, it’s to help improve your practice and the patient experience.
Implement text notifications: Millennials spend a great deal of time on their smartphones, and texting is one of the most frequent activities they engage in. Allow these patients to opt-in for text notifications so they can conveniently receive appointment reminders, emergency messages, and other important notifications straight to their phone. You can also enable the same functions for email.
Try to develop patient relationships: if a Millennial is going to take the time to come into your office for a visit, they don’t want to feel like just another patient or a list of symptoms on a chart. They want to feel like a person, so it’s your duty to try to establish a meaningful doctor-patient relationship. This may require spending a few extra minutes getting to know them, looking them in their eyes during visits and not at a computer screen, and letting them know that their health is a team effort.
The Millennial generation is complex. They thrive on technology, but still demand genuine human interactions. They understand the importance of visiting the doctor, but find that there are too many barriers related to cost, convenience and accessibility. As more young adults enter the workforce and seek health care services, practices will need to evaluate their technology use and their approach to treating this group if they want to be successful.
Tell us: what are you doing to attract Millennial patients to your practice?
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