Millennials have a completely different set of expectations than prior generations when it comes to engaging with the world around them. They are the digital natives and, as such, are used to interacting with their social networks, accessing services, and having the world’s knowledge all at their fingertips.
Healthcare spending represents 17.9 percent of America’s gross domestic product, but the healthcare industry is still in its digital infancy. Unlike most service industries, healthcare providers are still working with 1990s technology: the phone and the fax machine. While many practices have attractive websites, they haven’t invested in the same convenience tools as other industries.
Think about it: Millennials are used to booking flights, hotel rooms, hair appointments, and ordering takeout at any time of day or night from the convenience of their smartphones. But when it comes to making a doctor’s appointment, patients typically have to make a phone call during business hours and wait on hold for prolonged periods of time. Millennials expect good experiences when interacting with any service provider. A reasonably functioning website is not enough to create that experience. Primary care practices have to offer millennials access and convenience, too.
How millennials access healthcare
Generation Y trusts their social (and social media) networks far more than traditional advertising. They go to the internet first to research their symptoms, then call their doctor (or not). Millennials do not rely on physicians for medical advice as much as previous generations and prefer to do their own online research before booking an appointment. According to a survey conducted by Communispace:
- 56 percent of millennials reported they visited a primary care physician in the last year, compared to 74 percent of non-millennials.
- Approximately half of millennials research symptoms and treatments online before consulting a doctor, and of those, 27 percent will self-treat at home rather than consult or visit a physician’s office.
They not only consult the internet for healthcare advice, they’re also vocal about the care they receive. Sixty percent of young millennials will share their experiences when they are dissatisfied with their friends rather than with their doctors, so it is critical for physicians to solicit feedback from them directly. Giving them an opportunity to express their opinions verbally in the office can help prevent negative reviews online.
Millennials don’t just use the internet to google symptoms and self-treat. They use it to find the best doctors, and the best doctors for them personally. A survey conducted by Nuance Communications found that 54 percent of millennial responders use online reviews to find a doctor before scheduling an appointment. What’s more, they are twice as likely than non-millennials to trust personal and social network reviews when it comes to selecting healthcare providers.