The strange thing about the global market acceptance of the term ‘millennial’ is that everyone saw it coming three decades ago. Ever since the late 90s when the word was coined, businesses — all over the world — have been adapting to the generational shifts in customer behaviour. Those who acted on it were put in a prime position to face the brave new digital-first future. The ones who took themselves out of the race have had to play catch-up since then.
The $3 trillion healthcare industry is no exception. They are being forced to re-look at the patient experience. Now in their prime spending years, the expectations of millennials for on-demand services are being taken very seriously.
After all, the Amazons, the Netflixs, and the Ubers of the world have customers spoilt for choice in terms of receiving fast, convenient and transparent experiences. Without incorporating millennial engagement as a part of the overall service strategy, the industry will fail to meet the expectations of their largest customer base.
However, investing heavily in technology alone cannot elevate the patient experience.
To know what sort of experience to provide, it is crucial to understand the type of person who demands it.
Four major symptoms of millennial behaviour
Millennials are 100 per cent digitally native: Millennials grew up with the Internet and mobile technology They swear by all things digital. It is where they spend most of their time. As tech-savvy and cost-conscious customers, they expect their healthcare services to be digitalized too. In a nutshell, no app equals to “no thanks”.
Relying on telemedicine: According to Salesforce.com, 60 per cent of millennials showed an interest in adopting the use of telemedicine. They regard it as a cost-effective and time-saving option. Especially, when compared to a doctor’s office visit, that includes tedious processes – from start to finish.
DIY preventive treatment: With instant access to information, millennials often tend to self-diagnose their health issues before actually consulting a doctor or using services like telemedicine. This readily available information has led them to take preventive actions by focussing on leading a healthy lifestyle (due to vast exposure to social media).
Instant expectations: Having grown up in a world of instant access, they expect healthcare services to fit into that hyper mold. With no room for long wait times and slow turnaround, they prefer specialised retail clinics or acute care facilities that offer quick and efficient healthcare delivery experience.
Millennial trends that are impacting the healthcare industry
Growing to outnumber the baby boomers, the millennials have already changed how healthcare providers outlast one other through competitive differentiation. Gone are the days when chat support, automated conversations, apps-as-service, and other technology advancements were considered as innovative experiences. Without them, it is impossible to survive in the digital marketplace.
Wearable technology: Over the past few years, this form of technology has been catching up. It goes beyond just tracking exercise but monitors heart rate, sleep patterns and much more. It is driving the possibility of collaborative healthcare models, where this data can be actively shared with doctors and physicians.
Wearable technology has helped millennials begin a workout routine by staying motivated with accurate information. These fitness trackers make them accountable in their fitness regimen, makes the journey easy to follow to actively obtain their goals.
Precision medicine: Today, applying a one-size-fits-all approach to treatments and prevention of diseases isn’t the answer as every individual’s genetics play a big role in recovery. Therefore, electronic health record systems served as the first form of personalisation. Soon, precision medicine will revolutionise patient care and experience.
An emerging approach to treating diseases and preventing them too, precision medicine takes into account the already stored health and lifestyle data that includes health history, environment and genetic information to diagnose and treat the illness. This will allow doctors and researchers to access a database, and be more accurate in predicting and tailoring treatment strategies for specific diseases.
Word of mouth: Ironically, word-of-mouth advertising — one of the oldest marketing methods in existence — is big among millennials. The only difference from the days of yore is that these words are now exclusively spoken in the world wide web. They rely on online reviews as valuable sources of information about healthcare providers, and they are getting increasingly comfortable with sharing their treatment experiences. Majorly influenced by shared experiences, millennials take a broader view of the type of provider they need.
Therefore, the healthcare industry should be focussed on maximising the potential of social media channels while engaging existing and prospective patients. That is where people go to talk about any experiences they have. And that is exactly where their trust can be gained.
Augmented and virtual reality: A lot of AR and VR has revolved around gaming or retail, but it is soon expected to enter the healthcare realm. Technology has always played a major role not just in diagnosis, surgery, patient care or medical training but for simple procedures like drawing blood as well. With access to real-time data and patient information, this technology will also enhance the capability of the doctor to diagnose and treat conditions.
Tomorrow is today: Millennials can no longer be treated – literally and figuratively – as tomorrow’s patients. Healthcare companies must be millennial-friendly in order to be profitable in today’s service world that is getting friendlier and faster by the day.
After all, we are talking about meeting the expectations of a generation that has been around since the early 80s.
In 2018, should there even be a question as to whether we understand how they want to be taken care of?
This article was originally published in Express HealthcareRead
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