Millennials, the generation between 1984 and 2000, are making waves many industries: they’re buying houses in record low
numbers, forgoing savings plans, and expecting more convenience and quality from health providers.
In healthcare especially, millennials have a significant impact on the market because they’re the largest population of healthcare consumers, now with numbers over 80 million. Being such an enormous market share, they are at the forefront of healthcare organizations’ minds, but many struggle with how to engage and retain them over the long term.
Let’s take a look at three ways health systems can work to boost millennial patient engagement:
Improve Healthcare Speed, Convenience & Quality
Millennials put an emphasis on speed and convenience in every aspect of their lives, including their healthcare. A recent PNC survey found that millennials are less likely to interact with their primary care physicians than their parents are, primarily due to lack of convenience. The survey also found that millennials are twice as likely to visit a retail clinic or acute care facility because it’s more convenient to see a doctor during a lunch break.
To keep up with millennials’ desire for quick and convenient care, health systems need to provide timesaving care options like clinics, online check-ins, and one-stop healthcare. With these convenient care alternatives, health organizations can better attract millennial patients and encourage retention.
While millennials do prioritize convenience, that doesn’t mean they want to sacrifice quality. In fact, many infer healthcare quality before they even see a physician; after conducting a survey of 1,000 patients, Matt Rowan, President and CEO of HIDA, said that millennials “want to feel like the facility is up to date and modern, and they make inferences on quality based on that.”
To better attract, retain, and engage millennials, hospitals and health systems should ensure waiting rooms are clean, stylish, and have features like comfortable chairs, hand sanitizer, and televisions.
Prioritize Genuine Connections with Patients
Millennials are known for wanting deep, genuine connections with their physicians. Despite this, 40 percent of millennial patients report feeling rushed during their clinical appointments and that they didn’t receive the level of discussion wanted. If a patient has a rushed care experience, they may be less likely to return to that provider or facility.
To ensure they are providing the best possible care to millennial patients, health systems should remind physicians to take their time, maintain eye contact and friendly body positioning, and follow up with patients throughout their care journeys. This type of effort on physicians’ part ensures patients have positive care experiences and encourages future engagement. But it’s not all on the physicians to create deep connections. All touch points with millennials should build on the patient-physician connection. Both Marketing can support on-going communications via preferred channels that support the customer journey and keep millennials engaged. Similarly, call centers that have made the transition to a proactive engagement center further build loyalty among millennials because they’re backed by rich healthcare CRM data that allows the call center agent to deeply “know” the caller. As Melanie Draheim of Network Health affirms, “as companies personalize services, they will see millennials can be loyal to their brand if they are engaged in the right way.”
Expand Digital Engagement Options
Millennials tend to integrate brand relationships into their buying habits, therefore are more likely to choose a care facility they’ve already established a relationship with. This means healthcare marketers should focus on forging relationships early on with the help of healthcare technology.
Having grown up in a time of rapid technological change, millennials are comfortable with integrating new technologies into their lives. This mindset is consistent when it comes to healthcare; in a Salesforce report published last year, researchers determined that 60 percent of millennials support the use of telehealth, and 71 percent would like for their physicians to adopt a mobile health application. In order to appeal to and engage with millennial patients, health systems must provide technology options to engage them.
Telehealth is the use of telecommunications technologies to support long-distance healthcare. Telehealth enables physicians to provide virtual care, saving time for both the patient and the physician. Since it improves convenience while maintaining quality of care, telehealth is an attractive care option for millennial patients. To support telehealth capabilities, providers would need to install web cameras and set up a secure video hosting platform.
Millennials consider smartphones a necessity for modern life; 97 to 98 percent of millennials own smartphones according to a recent Nielsen study. Mobile health apps can be an effective way to reach millennial patients, since they are easily accessible via smartphone. It is also important to note that health websites should be optimized for mobile viewing, since that is millennials’ preferred way of online searching.
Millennials spend a significant amount of time on social media, which means these platforms can be an excellent healthcare marketing opportunity. Marketers should focus on building their organization’s social media presence, participating in discussions, and engaging with customers through social channels. This type of engagement online can have a positive impact on patient acquisition; 41 percent of people say social media affects their choice of doctor, hospital, or medical facility.
Millennial customers are using devices like FitBits and Apple Watches to track everything from their heart rates to their activity levels to their nutrient intake. To take advantage of this affinity for wearable technology, organizations should implement healthcare data collection and patient monitoring techniques linked to these devices. Being able to automatically share health information with their physicians fulfills two main desires millennials have when it comes to healthcare – convenience and improved quality of care.
Generational shifts in preferences are a given in any industry. In healthcare, a highly personal and expensive industry, the effects of millennial patient needs are especially great. To engage and retain the growing millennial customer base, healthcare marketers need to constantly evaluate their customers’ needs and adopt new marketing strategies and technology accordingly. Young people will always lead the curve when it comes to technology and cultural change, meaning healthcare must also ride this curve in order to effectively appeal to them.