Millennials and Healthcare Providers: A Redefined Relationship

Millennials and Healthcare Providers: A Redefined Relationship

Young people today do not approach wellness the same way as in the past. The Millennial Generation includes those individuals born roughly between 1982 and 2004.  Also referred to as Generation Y, Generation WE and the Peter Pan Generation, many of these young adults have graduated from high school and college and have already entered the workforce.  No longer on their parent’s health insurance plans, these millennials have been or are beginning to independently make their own health care choices. These wellness decisions include when, how, and from whom to seek treatment. Because millennials think differently about their own health and health care providers, the health care industry, and especially primary care providers, need to begin adjusting how they deliver health care.

A recent poll by the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that a surprising 45% of those ages 18 to 29 did not have a primary care health care provider, significantly higher than other age groups in the poll.  For example, only 28% of those ages 30 to 49 did not have a primary care provider and an even lower 12% of those 65 and older reported not having a primary care provider.  The KFF survey also discovered that millennials highly value convenience, fast service, connectivity, and price transparency above all when searching for a health care provider.  Providing health care services that deliver what millennials value most can be a challenge for most traditional health care practices.

A recent survey conducted by the Health Industry Distributors Association, a trade association assisting companies to perform profitably within the healthcare distribution chain, determined the following about millennials and their health care choices:

  • Millennials are more than twice as likely as older generations to search for healthcare providers on third-party review sites like Yelp and Angie’s List.
  • Almost 43% visited an urgent care in the past year, and nearly 23% visited a retail health clinic like a Target Minute-Clinic.
  • 33% reported they waited too long to receive care.
  • 41% postponed seeking healthcare because they thought it was expensive.
  • 60% claimed cost was a significant factor when evaluating a provider.
  • 32% indicated they would switch providers if they were dissatisfied.

The above poll results amplify the KFF survey outcomes that millennials require speedy treatment, and transparent and affordable pricing, and that they will look to technology when choosing a health care provider.  Furthermore, in a different survey, as many as 54% of millennials reported that they had delayed or foregone medical treatment because it was too expensive.  This compares with only 18% of those over age 65 reporting delaying or avoiding treatment due to cost.

As millennials continue to comprise more and more of the total number of health care consumers, primary care practices must adapt to better attract and retain millennials in their practice.  As older patients in these practices move into facilities and others die, primary care practices will have to replace aging patients with this population of millennial patients.  Clearly understanding what millennial patients want and incorporating those elements into the healthcare practice is key.