Five Ways Millennials Have Shaken Up Healthcare

May 01, 2015 at 02:45 pm by Staff

ORLANDO--The most powerful demographic group – millennials, ages 21-32, empowered by advances in technology – are turning America’s healthcare landscape upside down.
In a recently released survey commissioned by PNC Healthcare, more than 5,000 participants nationwide explored the impact of patient-centered care among various age groups, including millennials, Generation X or Gen-Xers (ages 33-49), baby boomers (ages 50-71) and seniors (72+). The most significant finding: online shopping for doctors, web-based diagnostic tools and research about treatment options have a role in healthcare decisions for millennials, replacing the single-source, primary care physician (PCP) favored by older generations.
“As millennials overtake boomers as the nation's biggest consumer buying group, they will expect more efficient ways to make healthcare payments via digital channels that are consistent with their experiences in other industries,” said Shane Print, vice president of PNC Healthcare for Florida, Alabama and Georgia. “It’ll be important for payers and providers to work together to meet these payment expectations by progressing further along the technology continuum, especially considering that much of the growth in the healthcare payments industry has been driven by a rise in patient responsibility. Those insurers and healthcare providers that thrive will be those that adapt sooner than later to the preferences of this fast-paced, technology-driven generation.”
Growing trends among the millennials that are driving change in healthcare include:

Speedy delivery
When it comes to the drive-thru generation, millennials prefer retail (34 percent) and acute care clinics (25 percent) double that of boomers (17 and 14 percent, respectively) and seniors (15 and 11 percent, respectively). On the flip side, seniors (85 percent) and boomers (80 percent) visited their PCP significantly more than millennials at 61 percent.
In Florida, Print noted that urgent, specialty and retail clinics over the last four years have grown dramatically. “Quick Care” availability has been recognized as a top priority by many healthcare organizations, and even large retailers and several pharmacy chains. Millennials expressed concern about this method of care and the quality of the patient’s care, based on who’s consulting with the patient (level of education), possible lack of patient’s accurate healthcare background, and pressure of being a “quick appointment.”

Word-of-mouth marketing
Nearly 50 percent of millennials and Gen-Xers use online reviews, such as Yelp and Healthgrades, when shopping for a healthcare provider, compared to 40 percent of baby boomers and 28 percent for seniors.  
“The timely management of social media is critically important to the growth and success of healthcare,” said Print. “Bad patient reviews can come too easy, so making sure positive reviews greatly outnumber the negative ones is a constant challenge for all practices. Getting happy patients engaged with sharing their positive experience will continue to be important for a practice’s success.”

Kick the tires online before buying
Half of millennials and 52 percent of Gen X-ers checked online information about their insurance options during their last enrollment period, compared to 25 percent of seniors, who prefer printed materials (48 percent) or a company representative (38 percent) before selecting their plan.

Good faith, upfront estimates
One of five people surveyed by PNC listed unexpected/surprise bills as the No. 1 billing-related issue. With out-of-pocket costs on the rise, millennials are more inclined (41 percent) to request and receive estimates before undergoing treatment. Only 18 percent of seniors and 21 percent of boomers reported asking for or receiving information on costs upfront. Unfortunately, 34 percent noted the final bill was higher than the estimate; only 8 percent reported a bill lower than estimate.
“What we’ve found with our clients in the southeast is that healthcare practices are now more motivated than before to improve the patient’s experience around billing, payment plans, and care and insurance coverage education due to the need to comply with healthcare reform requirements and for the sake of improving the profitability of the practice,” added Print.

Kicking care down the road.
All age groups agreed that medical care is too expensive (79 percent) and healthcare costs are unpredictable (77 percent). But more than half of millennials (54 percent) and Gen-Xers (53 percent) reported delaying or avoiding treatment because of cost, compared to seniors (18 percent) and boomers (37 percent).
“What we’ve found locally,” added Print, “is that with many patients neglecting their care due to costs, practices are addressing this issues by offering free/low cost healthcare clinics, healthcare education, and automated patient payment programs.”
PNC Healthcare is a member of The PNC Financial Services Group Inc. The survey was conducted by Shapiro+Raj in January.


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