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Episode 147: Education, Empowerment and Engagement: How Digital Tools are Improving the Patient Experience. Amanda Bury, Infermedica

February 2, 2022

Written by Samantha Holvey

As an elder millennial I can speak from personal experiences, challenges, and the desires of my peers when it comes to our health care and the future of health care as we see it. We are the first generation that grew up with easy access to computers and the internet. We are extremely comfortable and trusting when it comes to technology and sharing our data. We have the world at our fingertips, and we want our health care at our fingertips as well.

Millennials are the largest generation group in the U.S., with an estimated population of 72.1 million. Born between 1981 and 1996, Millennials recently surpassed Baby Boomers as the biggest group, and will continue to be a major part of the population for many years. We are “adulting” and making health care decisions for ourselves and our families. Has your organization pivoted to address the following issues and is it poised to be successful as we millennials shake up the health care industry?

Digital access – This means more than just having a website. Yesterday I met with my dermatologist and endocrinologist without leaving my home. After the onset of COVID-19, telehealth skyrocketed and so did new online provider platforms. With online/app providers like Teladoc, Lemonaid Health, Apostrophe, Better Help, etc. (the list is endless) we no longer have to leave our homes to seek medical help and we have access when we want it. In a Salesforce survey, 6 out of 10 millennials support telemedicine, such as video chats, instead of in-person visits. Even more want their doctors to give them a mobile app for booking appointments, reviewing health records, and managing their preventive care.

Transparency - More likely to be unemployed than prior generations were at our age, millennials worry about health care costs. In 2017, the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), in collaboration with Greenwald and Associates, polled more than 3,560 adults with health insurance. Across generations, millennials were most likely to report researching costs online, investigating whether insurance covered care and discussing treatment costs with a doctor.A PNC poll found that millennials are more willing than older patients to request an upfront price estimate. One in two said they would delay or skip health care because of costs.

Impatient patients – Most millennials also work as freelancers, typically telecommuting to their job, according to Upwork. But to be a freelancer, you need good time management skills, which is exactly the appeal of an urgent care visit. We understand the value of time and never seem to have enough of it, so there’s no room in our lives for a long wait time to either make an appointment to see a clinician or to waste time in a waiting room. PNC Healthcare did a study in 2017 that showed millennials are twice as likely as baby boomers to favor an urgent care or retail clinic.

We do the research – Growing up as a millennial we were taught that to be successful you need a bachelor’s degree and to be really successful you need an advanced degree like a master’s, JD, or MD. But then we graduated amid a financial crisis and struggled to pay our student loans. Thus, we are the most educated generation, with a strong distrust for authority.

In a survey by Grayhealth and Kantar Health, just 41% of millennials noted that they trust physicians as the best source of health information. Barely a fourth agreed that physicians and pharmacists give them the information they need to make decisions. Millennials also are looking for payers to transform to meet our needs, according to results from a recent survey by HealthEdge Software.

We are inclined to do our own health care research online, including comparing treatment options, and checking quality ratings of physicians and hospitals. We also consult friends, family, blogs, message boards and websites like WebMD and Mayo Clinic.

Holistic health – With all that student loan debt and financial insecurity, it’s no wonder that we experience more anxiety than previous generations. Which is why exercise, nutrition, and therapy are just as essential to us as antibiotics. We view health as more than just a lack of disease. A Welltok survey found that more than 90 percent of millennials want support for emotional/mental health, adequate sleep, and positive family relationships. The survey noted that only 53 percent of respondents said that their providers only care about diagnosing and treating them when they are sick; while 87 percent believe that providers should support their total health and well-being.

The health care industry is changing as millennials demand a more flexible, efficient, convenient system. With a trust and aptitude in technology that has led to a boom in the wearables industry, we are a generation to be reckoned with. Where and how millennials will contribute to the health care industry is the $3.4 trillion question that you don’t want to answer incorrectly.

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