Healthcare News & Insights

3 keys to attracting millennial patients

Millennials are shaping up to be significant healthcare consumers, so hospitals that want their business need to be prepared to address their unique needs.

ThinkstockPhotos-148186581Over time, millennials (adults ages 21-32, also known as Gen Y) are poised to become the top purchasers of all consumer goods and services, including health care, according to a news release from PNC Healthcare. And they approach their health care a bit differently than people of other generations.

To get an idea of the best ways to serve different generations of patients, PNC Healthcare surveyed thousands of people from multiple age groups about their interest in patient-centered care. Besides millennials, the organization also got input from Gen Xers (ages 33-49), baby boomers (ages 50-71) and seniors (age 72 and older).

When it comes to treating millennials, these three key takeaways from the survey can help hospitals best serve some of their younger patients:

1. Speedy health care

Millennials value convenience, and they want care fast. Compared to their older counterparts, millennials have a preference for using retail clinics (like the Minute Clinics at some CVS pharmacies) and urgent care facilities. They’re also less likely to visit a primary care physician, or even have one at all.

This could be a mixed bag for hospitals. Since millennials are used to visiting urgent care facilities, they’ll only come to the emergency department for serious problems, which will lower wait times and possibly decrease the cost of charity care. But millennials who do visit the hospital may need a bit more prompting to visit a primary care doctor for regular follow-up appointments.

2. Staying connected

Generation Y grew up with the Internet, and the web is continuing to influence their healthcare decisions as adults. In fact, close to half of millennials look at online reviews at sites like Yelp and HealthGrades before selecting a healthcare provider. And half of millennials research information about their health insurance plans online.

Interestingly, Gen X patients used the Internet in similar percentages for these purposes.

While online info about hospitals isn’t always 100% accurate, younger patients may be right in going with their instinct to check out their options using the Internet and social media. According to the results of a recent study, the user rating a hospital received on its Facebook page correlated with the facility’s readmission rates. Higher-rated facilities had lower readmissions.

Because online ratings and information play such a significant role in how younger patients obtain health care, it’s key for hospitals to actively manage their online image. Having a comprehensive, user-friendly website for your facility is a good start.

It’s also helpful for your hospital to have an active, positive presence on social networking sites. You may even want to hire a social media manager who can maintain your hospital’s Facebook page while browsing sites like Yelp to check out how patients are rating your care.

3. Conscious of cost

Perhaps because they came of age during the Great Recession, many millennials are very price conscious when it comes to health care – maybe even more conscious than their older, more conservative counterparts.

In fact, 41% of millennials surveyed said they’d only even consider receiving certain healthcare treatment after they’ve asked for and received an estimate of how much it’ll cost them. And 54% have actually delayed or avoided treatment because of cost.

The feds are pushing hospitals to be more transparent about their pricing for services, and this trend will be helpful for cost-conscious millennials. But along with letting them know exactly how much treatment costs, it’s also important to offer Gen Y patients flexible payment options for their balances.

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