Consumers—especially millennials—are looking for a more efficient, faster way to get medical care, and building a relationship with a primary physician is of less concern to them, according to a new survey.
In the survey of more than 5,000 consumers nationwide, PNC Healthcare explored the impact of patient-centered care among various age groups, including millennials (ages 21 to 32), Generation X or Gen-Xers (ages 33 to 49), baby boomers (ages 50 to 71), and seniors (ages 72 and older).
It found that 34% of millennials prefer retail clinics and 25% prefer acute care clinics—double that of boomers (17% and 14% respectively) and seniors (15% and 11%). On the flip side, seniors (85%) and boomers (80%) visited the primary care physician significantly more often than millennials at 61%.
“With the proliferation of mobile devices and digital communication tools, patients—the customers of the insurance world—are expecting faster and more convenient services,” says Amy Young, healthcare marketing manager at Cisco, a global technology company based in San Jose, CA. “This is especially true in an environment where they are likely paying more out of pocket for healthcare than in the past. No doubt, this is a difficult transformation for the healthcare business that’s used to in-person interactions.”
A successful transformation for healthcare organizations needs to start with a culture shift, according to Young. “Is the organization utilizing video conferencing, mobile work flows, and other digital innovations? Start there, then look at the organization’s offerings. For example, do healthcare plans cover new methods of healthcare delivery such as telehealth? If so, are employees and patients aware of those new methods? Many studies of telehealth adoption find that patients want it, but didn’t know it was offered or covered,” she says. “Additionally, the right digital foundation that supports mobile devices and communication tools includes data management and analytics tools that can help managed care executives better plan their resource budgets and product offerings.”
Here’s how to offer your members and patients more of the “retail” experience many of them are seeking in healthcare:
- Make sure that the right digital foundation is in place with the right levels of security before building digital tools that reflect those which are used by retail companies.
- Always keep the business goals in mind—and maintain focus on the patient, too. “Think big and long-term,” says Young. “The shift to value-based care requires tools that address health across the continuum of care—not just a single episode, but a ‘patient for life.’ Internally, make sure all departments have a seat at the table to ensure the digital technologies deployed make sense across the enterprise.”
- Consider retail-like customer experience tools that unburden healthcare professionals from excessive management tasks so they can focus on patient care. “And be sure to market them effectively so they are utilized by the people who need them most,” says Young.
- When developing tools (such as video, mobile apps, secure messaging), also keep in mind how the effectiveness of those tools will be measured. “What does success look like? Will there be a reward system for those who implement new tools that improve population health? Is there a pivoting plan if it’s concluded the tools are not working?” says Young.
“Millennials want their relationship with their healthcare provider to reflect the relationships they have with other trusted organizations,” Young says. “They want to be able to look up their medical records with a simple login, schedule appointments online, IM chat with advice nurses through Facebook or WhatsApp, and get discounts or reward points for every check-up they do. A doctor must fit into their online, social world—become a trusted friend that rewards them for taking care of themselves. This is how you gain their loyalty.”
Millennials are also the most likely early adopters of new technology—in fact they are currently the biggest users of telehealth services and mobile health applications—so they could be a good test audience for new innovations, according to Young.