November 8, 2019 Read Advisory Board's take: 4 ways to appeal to millennial patients

Millennials are suffering from chronic health issues at greater rates than previous generations, which could have a significant impact on their economic potential and health spending in the future, according to a new report from Moody's the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

What your patients expect from their care—from millennials to Gen X

Report details

The report found that the prevalence of certain chronic conditions has increased significantly since 2014 among millennials.

According to the report, behavioral health may be "key to the millennial health shock." The researchers noted that 5% of millennials had major depression in 2017, up 31% from 3.8% in 2014.

Millennials also are seeing higher rates of accidents and suicides than Gen Xers, defined as those born between 1965 and 1980, did when they were the same age.

In addition, the report found that millennials in 2016 had roughly $36,000 less in total assets, $5,000 more in total debt, and $41,000 less in net worth than Gen Xers did in 2001.

As a result of these health trends, the researchers estimated that the oldest millennials could lose more than $4,500 in real per-capita income compared with Gen Xers of a similar age.

Overall, the report noted that, without intervention, death rates among millennials could increase by more than 40% compared with similarly aged Gen Xers.

Why millennials' health is getting worse

Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Analytics who prepared the report using Blue Cross Blue Shield data, said the declining health of millennials could be related to the fact that a large portion of millennials entered the workforce in the throes of an economic crisis.

Zandi also said that student debt, the opioid epidemic, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq could also play a role in millennials' health.

"To address this brewing crisis," Zandi said, "it's going to take action not only from the perspective of the economy but also from the perspective of health care" (Blue Cross Blue Shield Association report, 11/5; Blue Cross Blue Shield Association release, 11/5; Court, Bloomberg, 11/6).

Advisory Board's take

While many news reports may overhype the differences between millennials and older Americans, this report indicates that there are, in fact, meaningful differences in the health and health care preferences of the millennial generation. With the youngest among them just out of college, and the oldest shopping for pediatricians for their own children, millennials' health care consumption and preferences are varied. However, they tend to coalesce around several defining characteristics. Understanding their needs and demands is prerequisite to winning this generation's business.

Here are four defining characteristics—and what they mean for providers:

  1. They're cost-sensitive and financially risk-adverse. Advisory Board survey results show the generation values affordability and convenience most when selecting a care site for non-emergent conditions. In fact, when asked what clinic attributes mattered most in choosing a care site, three out of Millennials' top ten priorities involved cost, with "the visit will be free" topping the list. For providers to appeal to these cost-sensitive and financially risk-adverse Millennials, they can offer visits with lower-cost advanced practitioners, innovative pricing models, clearly posted prices, and care warranties.

  2. They're technologically-savvy. Having grown up with the internet, the Millennials are tech-reliant, and 94% own a smartphone. Advisory Board survey results suggest that 21% would consider using a webcam visit with a doctor, and 26% would consider emailing with a doctor. Therefore, providers can consider offering virtual visits, incorporating wearable sensors into care, and developing apps to personalize care plans to attract Millennial patients.

  3. Value convenience and simplicity. Our survey results show that six of Millennials' top ten priorities for a care site involved convenience. This desire for easy access permeates their lives: 73% use online streaming services to watch TV, and they make 60% of purchases online. Providers can improve convenience and earn Millennials' business through online scheduling, extended hours of access, and bundled care options.

  4. Social and willing to share opinions. Millennials are active sharers on- and offline. 97% find online ratings and reviews of doctors to be at least somewhat reliable, and 70% say that these online reviews have influenced their choice of physician. Meeting Millennials' care priorities can help clinch their recommendations to friends and family, while providers can emulate the University of Utah and post their own patient satisfaction scores to manage the balance of positive and negative reviews.

To learn more about how what patients of all ages want from their care—and how you can become their provider of choice—download our infographic detailing How Consumers' Health Care Preferences Vary by Age.

What your patients expect from their care—from millennials to Gen X

Millennials, Gen X, Baby Boomers, the Silent Generation—what exactly do each of these groups want from their health care?

We surveyed thousands of consumers across the United States to find out. Download this infographic to learn how to tailor your messages and target your investments to each generation.

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