The landscape of healthcare has drastically changed within the last decade. From payment reform to digital adoption, one generation has had the most influence on the changes made.
The Millennials, consisting of individuals born between 1984 and 2000, have flooded the consumer market with vastly differently views on health compared to their grandparents and parents.
This change in thought is largely due to Millennials’ exposure to the rapidly advancing technology industry. They have the greatest interest in digital health initiatives, and, with this generation making up nearly one third of the general population, the health system needs to take notice of what they are expecting from healthcare providers.
So, in what way are Millennials affecting healthcare technology?
Let’s take a look:
The Generation of Telehealth
Telehealth, the use of telecommunications technologies supporting long distance healthcare, enables physicians to diagnose and prescribe necessary medicine without physically seeing the patient.
From dentistry to emergency care, the concept of telehealth has increasingly gained popularity among Millennials within the last decade. If you can bank, read e-mails, make reservations, and book a flight, why not communicate with your physician?
A recent poll conducted by Harris Poll, in fact, found that 74% of Millennials are interested in utilizing telehealth, of which 63% believe that they would be provided a better diagnosis.
In hopes of engaging more with Millennials, healthcare organizations are improving their means of virtual communications like installing HD web cams and providing personalized messaging. Experts are predicting that by 2020, the use of telehealth will double among consumers and the number of video consultants will reach close to 27 million.
mHealth (Mobile Health)
As part of telehealth, mobile health initiatives are also increasing in popularity. A recent PNC survey found that Millennials are less likely to interact with their primary care physicians than the baby boomer generation, due to lack of convenience. It was found that Millennials are twice as likely to visit a retail clinic or acute care facility because it is more convenient to see a doctor during a lunch break.
With the limited patient interaction, healthcare organizations are forced to venture into new communication channels, but which channel is best?
Smartphones have become a necessity, allowing consumers to shop, research, and communicate all while on the go. They provide users with a more convenient way to solve problems or get answers to their most pressing questions. With more than 85% of Millennials owning a smartphone, healthcare organizations have began catering their engagement initiatives around mobile accessibility.
Mobile health applications provide healthcare organizations with a big opportunity to improve engagement with this tech savvy generation. Millennials are ready and open to using mobile healthcare apps to improve their personal well-being. More than two thirds of this younger generation are more than likely to express interest in using a mobile app to manage their health, compared to Americans 66 and older.
A survey from Salesforce and Harris Poll found that 71% of millennial patients wish their providers would use mobile apps to book appointments, share health data, and manage preventive care. This trend will continue to increase as Millennials become older and as the power of technology continues to advance.
One mobile app that has helped Millennials with a more convenient way of finding a physician is ZocDoc. Developed in 2007, ZocDoc helps users find and make doctor appointments fast without having to endure long wait periods. Today, the app has been downloaded more than 300,000 times and has been named one of the top health mobile applications.
ZocDoc and similar applications have allowed healthcare organizations to engage and communicate with patients who are less inclined to see their physicians in person.
Social Media Usage
For many years, social media has been an untouched territory for healthcare organizations due to HIPPA regulations surrounding patient privacy. Unfortunately, due to the increased patient popularity and growing dependency on it, social media has become a marketing necessity.
The role of social media in healthcare is continuously evolving. It helps to empower patients, educates the public, and connects individuals who otherwise wouldn’t. Yet more than anything, Millennials use social media to determine credibility of physicians and the information they provide.
Social media platforms have taken word-of-mouth marketing to a whole new level, enabling users to post a review for all of their followers to view fast and easy. Traditional word-of-mouth marketing was often limited to someone asking one question, and then someone would reply directly back. With social media word-of-mouth marketing, no one has to ask a question, yet everyone can see the answer.
Through social media, consumers are empowered to search for information surrounding purchase decisions. As healthcare is becoming more consumer-focused, patients are expecting more transparency with pricing and practices. An estimated 76% of Millennials value online reviews from other patients when making decisions regarding physicians and health.
By engaging and interacting with Millennials on social media sites, healthcare organizations can help revitalize word-of-mouth referrals and eliminate communication barriers.
The Transformation of Big Data into Super Data
From Fitbits to Garmins and mobile fitness apps to Apple watches, wearable tracking technology has transformed the process of data collection. According to the Wearable Future Report, adoption rate is steadily increasing among Millennials. The report also finds that more than 80% of Millennials feel that wearables would make transferring healthcare information to physicians more convenient.
For healthcare organizations, wearable devices unlock new opportunities in data collection and patient monitoring. These devices can help monitor activity levels, heart rate, and other vital signs as well as alert the wearer and other parties, such as doctors, when a problem occurs. As a result, health systems can transform this data into actionable insight and scalable analytics to help better engage with patients.
Arguably the most fast-paced generation, Millennials are quickly pushing healthcare to catch up with today’s technology trends. As this generation becomes older, their influence on healthcare and medical needs will increase, forcing providers to adapt to their desires.