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Gen Z is aging out of pediatrics—what does that mean for your growth strategy?

August 27, 2019

    The burgeoning "Gen Z" generation, made up of Americans born during or after 1997, is front of mind to many health system planners and growth strategists. Today, however, Gen Z constitutes a disproportionately small share of the health care market. Health systems should keep this in mind when devising their growth strategies and instead focus their efforts on the older generations who will drive revenues for the foreseeable future.

    What your patients expect from their care—from Gen Z to the silent generation

    Gen Z and health care: What we know

    Gen Z is still young (the oldest Gen Z-ers turn 22 in 2019), meaning little definitive data exists on their health care preferences. One recent Accenture study, however, does provide some insight. According to the study, Gen Z is the most tech-savvy generation of health care consumers ever, with 40% of Gen Z members saying they're more likely to choose providers that offer access to test results and prescription renewals online.

    Gen Z is also far less likely than previous generations to have a primary care physician (PCP)—just 55% of Gen Z reports having one, compared to 67% of Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) and 84% of Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964). At the same time, Gen Z is dissatisfied with the current levels of care quality, convenience, and transparency around the care decisions providers make (ex. which test will be conducted) that they get from traditional primary care models.

    Gen Z doesn’t currently drive revenue—act accordingly

    Though striking, Gen Z's health care preferences shouldn't alarm health systems. Despite being the largest age cohort in the United States, Gen Z is not only young enough that most are still covered by their parents' insurance, but they're also quite healthy, meaning this generation constitutes a disproportionately small share of volumes. Planners and growth strategists, therefore, should focus on meeting the preferences of the older generations who will make up the bulk of health care volumes for at least the next decade.

    What's more, Gen Z's health care preferences thus far differ little from Millennials'. So rather than creating a new, Gen Z-focused strategy, health systems should simply refer to what we know about Millennials for future planning, while focusing primary growth efforts on attracting the high-volume Baby Boomer and Silent generations.

    Looking to plan ahead?

    If you'd like to prepare for when Gen Z drives health care volumes, consider the following tactics:

    1. Increase targeted, direct-to-consumer marketing to account for Gen Z's lack of PCP relationships;

    2. Increase transparency, including on prices;

    3. Consider investing in alternative care models to account for Gen Z's desire for more convenient offerings than traditional primary care offices; and

    4. Consider digital capabilities that let patients take ownership of their care experience, such as patient portals, online billing and scheduling, and access to online lab and test results.

    A robust growth strategy will prioritize current and upcoming revenue streams, led by the nation's older generations, while laying the foundation for future growth as Gen Z and Millennials utilize more health care services.


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