Millennials are reshaping the medical industry. How and why this matters

There was a time when Baby Boomers were the largest segment of the U.S. population, but that time has passed. There are now some 83.1 million Millennials in the U.S. today (people born between 1982 and 2000) according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

That’s nearly 8 million more people than there are Baby Boomers.

Looking at it differently, Millennials make up around 25% of the total U.S. population, and by 2020 will account for more than $1.4 trillion in spending per year.

Those who were around to remember it, recall that the influx of Baby Boomers impacted and changed how the world worked. Well, history seems about ready to repeat itself as these millions of Millennials are set to disrupt the world as we know it.

The healthcare industry is not immune.

Millennials have grown up in a world where technology is the norm, on-demand is expected, and where consumers have far more control over their relationships with brands. How does this mindset transfer over to the medical world? Here is what our orthopedic marketing agency has to say:

Millennials demand technical innovation in healthcare

Millennials grew up with technology. Many of them don’t remember life before smartphones or the internet. They expect others will rely on the same digital technology they do – including their doctors.

Take a look at this graphic by Goldman Sachs:

Millennials are, generally, more health-conscience, which is great. But it also means they’re willing to invest in technology that helps them merge their health goals into their normal everyday lives.

It’s true that Millennials aren’t heavy users of healthcare at the moment, as they’re still young and healthy. But as they turn to medical professionals more and more, they’re starting to demand tech-savvy doctors who know how to integrate the latest technology to deliver the best possible experience.

What could this look like?

Some of the solutions you should already be looking into, and offering, include:

  • Health portals
  • Self-serve options
  • Online appointment scheduling
  • Electronic medical record review
  • Online payment options
  • A mobile app to allow patients to manage care, review records, and schedule appointments

Integrating technology and digital marketing for your pain management clinic has a couple of benefits.

Firstly, this technology does, in fact, help you better serve your patients. More transparency and convenience are surefire recipes for cultivating a healthier mindset for your patients.

But there’s also the credibility factor. The medical industry is among the most technologically dependent industries on the planet. Each day, new devices and treatments are devised to help us all live healthier, and longer.

It can be disarming to a Millennial to walk into a doctor’s office and be forced to step back into time, into a paper-heavy world. If you want to attract, and retain, your Millennial patients, you have to speak their language.

Millennials and an on-demand medical service

A growing number of millennials are a part of the freelancing gig economy. What that means is they often work from home (or anywhere, really) and have work days that never truly end. This puts a lot of stress on the importance of each minute of each day.

That’s why such services like Netflix, TiVo, Hulu and Sling (TV) are so popular. Millennials don’t believe they should have to mold their schedule around other services. It should be the other way around.

And they bring that same perspective into their healthcare expectations.

A 2015 PNC Healthcare study found that Millennials are twice as likely as Baby Boomers to use retail clinics and acute care facilities for speed and efficient care. Only 61% of Millennials visited their primary care physician (compared to 80% of boomers, and 85% of seniors).

Walk-in facilities, like MedPost (seen below) have seen a steady increase in traffic across the nation, with Millennials being a large percentage of their patients.

Our medical marketing agency can’t help but pay special attention to the big CHECK IN ONLINE button on the homepage of Atlanta’s MedPost – a call-to-action that speaks directly to the expectations of Millennials.

Why visit the doctor when we have video for that?

Millennials love video. Facebook reports that post with videos perform head and shoulders above other posts.

And livestream videos? Well, they’re in a class of their own.

But video isn’t just about Snapchat stories or YouTube. Video and livestream have found their way into the medical industry, in the way of telemedicine.

A 2015 study by found that nearly 60% of Millennials have an interest in telemedicine.

The key here is that telemedicine means so much more than connecting with patients via a choppy Skype call.

Millennials won’t accept choppy or disjointed video from their healthcare provider like they do with Skype,” wrote Tony Zhao, CEO of real-time communications provider, “They expect reliability from any service where they’re paying significant money.

In other words, telemedicine should already be a part of your conversation for growth. What types of technologies can you rely on to provide the best possible, and seamless, experience for your patients?

Investing in telemedicine can be intimidating. But it’s important to remember that this technology not only benefits your patients; it benefits your practice as well.

The U.S. spends over $2.9 trillion on healthcare every year, more than any other developed nation. An estimated $200 billion of those costs are avoidable.

Telemedicine has the power to cut healthcare spending by reducing unnecessary ER visits while making patient-doctor visits more efficient.

Telemedicine also increases patient engagement. Telemedicine allows them to connect with their doctor more frequently, in a convenient way. This means more questions asked – and answered, as well as a stronger doctor-patient relationship.

Word-of-Mouth marketing

For all this talk about technology and digital connectivity, it might seem surprising to partner up Millennials and something old-school like word-of-mouth marketing.

But be aware: this isn’t your run-of-the-mill word-of-mouth marketing we’re talking about. This is a new and improved version.

That same Salesforce report revealed that 76% of Millennials value online reviews from other patients when selecting a doctor.

The key term here is online review.

A large percentage of Millennials turn to medical-based review sites like HealthGrades to make their healthcare decisions, but they also turn to less expected places, such as Yelp.

And, to complicate things more, what Millennials really like is to hear from their closest friends or family members about trusted physicians (via platforms like Facebook).

In other words, if you want to build the trust of your younger patients, you need to improve your online reputation game.

Learn more: Reputation Management for the Medical Industry

This includes creating both a proactive and reactive reputation management strategy for your medical or healthcare marketing campaign. Through your proactive strategy, you’ll be able to grow your reviews across key platforms and channels, while your reactive strategy will help you address any negative reviews or issues in a timely fashion.

It’s not so much catering to Millennials but …

This article is painted as a how-to guide to help you attract and retain Millennials. That’s important, seeing as Millennials are the largest population in the country.

But it’s a bit of a disservice to suggest that the shifts we discuss above are aimed only to serve Millennials.

That’s simply not true.

Millennials are without question reshaping the healthcare industry, but not just for themselves. For everyone.

They may be in the driver’s seat, but we’re all along for the ride. The world as we know it has changed. Smartphones. Mobile apps. Virtual reality. All of these technologies come with their fair share of pop-culture coolness factor, but in reality, they represent an important shift, and advancement, in how we all care for ourselves and our patients.

A couple of times in this article, we referenced Salesforce’s report, the “State of the Connected Patient“. That same report found that many Millennials have limited, or non-existent relationships with their primary care doctor.

In fact, 40% reported that their PCP would not recognize them walking down the street. What an incredibly different world we live in from just 10 years ago! It’s important to note that many of these Millennials are ok with this type of non-relationship with their doctors. They’d rather engage with physicians through digital means.

You, then, have two choices. You can try to hold onto the way things were before the technological revolution, or you can embrace more social, mobile, and cloud solutions in your patient engagement repertoire.

The choice is yours.

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