21 Things to Know About Winning Millennial and Boomer New Patients

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

green "Boomers" arrow, red "Millennials" arrow, and blue "Gen x" arrow on street signThe curious thing about growth-minded hospitals and medical practices is that foresight happens just beyond the horizon. Attracting new patients is a constant challenge when success means driving beyond the range of the headlights. Hospitals and medical groups have faith in their research and planning.

Related: 9 Essential Steps to Improve Doctor Ratings Online

Today’s patients—demographically-speaking—will not be your patient base of tomorrow. Things change constantly with the biggest cohorts. Here are some of the differences, and the similarities, of what Millennials and Boomers want from healthcare today and in the future.

Millennial and Boomer Cohorts: The two, really big audience slices…

There was a fair amount of fanfare recently when the Millennial group (statistically) surpassed the Boomer group in size. The “biggest and most affluent” group dominated online content. It was as if the Boomers had evaporated.

In fact, the Millennial group is only a shade larger than Baby Boomers. (Rarely mentioned is the substantial and important crowd labeled Gen-X, often bundled with Millennials.) For your marketing to remain effective, these demographic groups require regular attention and adjustments. Keep in mind that stats are a moving target, but for planning purposes, here are the numbers:

Millennials                 Born 1977 to 1995                        75.4 million

Generation X              Born 1965 to 1976                        66.0 million

Baby Boomers            Born 1946 to 1964                          74.9 million

What everybody says they want from health care today…

Change is a constant factor as hospitals and providers work to reinvent themselves. The essential shift is to break away from the traditional, physician-centered system to a patient-centered delivery model. It is a monumental re-thinking of the delivery system for some institutions and individuals.

Regardless of the demographic sector, nearly all patients hold some expectations in common. For greater satisfaction, according to Kelton surveys, patients say they want:

  • Shorter wait times
  • Transparency on costs
  • Not feeling rushed
  • Providers with expertise in treating specific issue
  • Easy to schedule appointments

In addition, all age groups increasingly value the consumer-driven concept of “convenience,” which is a mainstay of retail and other service industries. Older and less-mobile Boomers are open to extended services such as home visits. Millennials, who have never been without the instant Internet at their fingertips, value immediacy as a standard in care delivery.

How Millennials think and act…

Some of the additional characteristics, expectations and marketing considerations of the “digital generation” include:

  • Millennials have money. Not all live in their parent’s basement. Millennials comprise 13 percent of the wealthy and affluent market defined as households with at least $100,000 in investible assets, according to the Wealth & Affluent Monitor.
  • This group has always had the Internet. They like and use technology to make everything easier and more convenient.
  • Most Millennials (74 percent) would prefer seeing a doctor virtually.
  • Millennials want apps and portals. For this cohort, portals should feature personalized health recommendations and provide additional information about the facility and provider services.
  • Especially mobile tech. Better than 70 percent of Millennials want to be able to book appointments through their mobile app.
  • Guarantee the appointment. About 55 percent of Millennials say they are willing to pay for a guaranteed specialist appointment that’s within a week.
  • The Millennial group is open to new things. They may be willing to try new services, and more than half want alternative wellness options.
  • Millennials are less inclined to think ahead about their health. They find physically going to the doctor to be an inconvenient chore. They only see their primary care provider about 60 percent of the time and are not inclined to schedule preventive care.
  • Millennials are not bonded to providers. Millennials are most likely to switch providers if not completely satisfied. Nearly 90 percent of these patients would switch providers if dissatisfied.
  • Better than 50 percent look online before selecting a doctor. They search for health information as well as physician ratings.
  • Let’s talk cost. Unlike Baby Boomers, Millennials want to know how much things cost in healthcare, and they are more likely to ask for a discount.

Overview: Cater to convenience. Millennials trust and use their familiar digital tools. (And don’t trust services that don’t use technology. They want and appreciate efficient and affordable care. But if they are dissatisfied, about 60 percent are likely to tell their friends.

How BOOMERS think and act…

The number of Americans ages 65 and older will more than double over the next few decades. In part, individuals in this group are living longer and they are working longer. Among the Baby Boomer generation, some of the additional characteristics, expectations and marketing considerations include:

  • Boomers are proactive about their care. They see their PCP about 80 percent of the time.
  • They have mostly known a physician-centric system. Given that they have (mainly) known the traditional delivery system, they are generally satisfied with the structure.
  • Cost influences buying decisions. Boomers—often on a fixed income—express a general anxiety about healthcare costs increasing. They are not as open to change, particularly when they feel that new services could impact future costs.
  • Many Boomers are retiring with money. Older Americans are part of the wealthiest generation in US history. They control 70 percent of the nation’s disposable income.
  • Boomers spend more time on purchase decisions. This generation invests more time in research and is more cautious about buying things.
  • This group increasingly uses digital technology. Online research influences selection of hospitals and doctors. Boomers search online for medical and health and disease/treatment information.
  • About 50 percent of Boomers spend 15 hours per week online. That’s more than the “connected generation” of Millennials at 41 percent.
  • Baby Boomers use social media. Better than 80 percent of this group participates in at least one social media site. The most popular site of choice for older Americans is Facebook.
  • Where available, online portals are useful. Boomers are less reliant on the Internet but would use hospital or provider practice portals to schedule appointments, review test results and to ask questions of their care providers.
  • Dissatisfied patients tell the doctor. Individuals strongly influence the healthcare decisions of other patients. Boomers may post information on doctor reviews, but 51 percent of older patients take their concerns directly to the provider.

Overview: Consumerism increasingly influences healthcare shopping and decision-making for themselves and for close family members. Older Americans are invested in sharing part of the cost of medical care. They actively participate in their healthcare decisions and delivery process, often with a strong concern for costs and seeking the greatest value.

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