March 2, 2016

Millennials and Healthcare: The New Odd Couple

By CarePayment

A so-called self-entitled technology-driven generation meets a more reserved and perhaps stodgy industry, but hilarity does not ensue. One relies on convenience and ease, the ability to access information from the palm of their hands, and millennials healthcare carepaymentthe need for instant gratification, while the other relies on more traditional methods such as one-way communication to set a patient’s expectations, delays in service and statementing by mail.

So how exactly does this new “odd couple” find common ground? With some improvements, the two can coexist more happily than Felix and Oscar.

Because millennials like myself haven’t had as much exposure to the healthcare industry, we compare our experience to what we know from other consumer-facing retail-oriented industries. We expect top-notch service, speedy delivery and quick access to information (including costs). In fact, 41 percent of millennials are likely to request estimates before undergoing treatment. We also expect to know our payment options up front, and we’re more likely to dispute our bills.

Healthcare providers are used to developing relationships with their patients, focusing on clinical health rather than financial health. An imperative attribute, but not enough to satisfy the needs of this millennial generation. As millennials’ influence grows, the healthcare industry will need to improve on its outdated methods.

How to exceed millennials’ expectations

  • Proactively discuss costs and financial options – According to a 2012 Deloitte survey, millennials are the most cost-conscious generation. We are more likely to switch providers or visit retail clinics in order to save money. Being able to proactively discuss costs and financial options with us will not only earn our trust, but enhance our overall patient experience.
  • Make convenience and ease a top priority – Millennials do not tolerate inefficient customer service. Ensure all touch points are in the best interest for the consumer. Do we need to wait a day or two for our appointment, or can we schedule same day? Are we able to access our medical records, prescription refills andother healthcare needs via our smartphone? Cultivating an experience tailored toward convenience and ease can help differentiate your organization from competitors.
  • Become our partner/friend – In a recent survey conducted by Facebook, 60 percent of millennials expressed desire for their bank to be a partner/friend. Now, healthcare providers are not banks, but it’s safe to assume the same is true for millennials and providers. We want to establish a relationship with brands we interact with, and, once established, we reward these institutions by becoming brand advocates. Create a relationship by being honest with millennials and communicate every step so we know what to expect.

As this new odd couple works together, great opportunities for innovation can be formed. Whether it is new solutions for affording care, new channels for delivering services or a strong emphasis on proactive health, these two partners can live together harmoniously.

For a look at how millennials are embodying the new patient as a consumer, check out our latest article featured in HFMA’s Revenue Cycle Strategist.