How Millennials and Gen Z are Driving the Digital Healthcare Revolution

Millennials are on track to become the largest generation in the United States, and their tech-driven lifestyles are fueling a digital revolution in healthcare. With instant access to information and the ubiquitous ability to transact in retail and finance through their mobile devices, their expectations for convenience and transparency are also moving into healthcare.

While healthcare providers have been slow to adopt the latest technologies, they will have to move quickly to survive the digital revolution. Moving appointment reminders, billing statements and payment options to an accessible and convenient mobile system can be a big step in the right direction.

Tech Savvy Generations 

According to Pew Research, there are more than 71 million Americans between the ages of 22 and 37, making them the majority of the workforce today. While stereotypes often portray Millennials as slackers, they are an increasingly powerful group of influencers in society, politics, and in the economy—they are also on track to become the most powerful decision-makers in healthcare.

Technology plays a leading role in virtually everything they do, from how they pay their bills to how they buy insurance. Generation Z, the generation behind them, is the first generation of “digital natives” who were entirely born and raised in the digital age where virtually everything can be done online.

Millennials and Generation Z welcome technological disruption and view it as a means to make things better, faster, and more efficient. Along with that has come high expectations for self-service and convenience. And in the era of same-day shipping and instant access to information, it seems almost unfathomable to visit a doctor then wait a month for the bill to come in the mail.

Mobile is now their primary connection to the world, and they prefer texting, app-based messages and email over things like phone calls and snail mail notifications. According to the Smartphone and IoT Consumer Trends 2017report, half of Millennials spend at least three hours per day on their phones while a quarter spend at least three hours per day.

Driving the Digital Patient Experience

Healthcare providers that want to thrive in this environment must understand and cater to the preferences of these younger generations. A report by Harris Poll and Salesforce found that more than 70 percent of Millennials want to book appointments through mobile apps. Nearly three-quarters also said they would prefer to see a doctor virtually.

These younger generations are rapidly reshaping the healthcare industry, and they’re also influencing the expectations of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. The 2017 Patient-Provider Relationship Study found more than 70 percent of patients want some sort of mobile capabilities with their physicians, starting with text appointment reminders.

Millennials also view healthcare differently, many have a greater focus on health and preventative measures, often viewing a trip to the doctor’s office as a last resort. These preferences are not just due to lifestyle but to finances. Rising insurance costs have hit many with higher deductibles and copays at a time when they’re facing large student loan bills and little wage growth. This may be why, according to Becker’s Hospital Review, half of Millennials avoid seeing a doctor to save money.

Meeting Millennials with a Mobile Patient Engagement Solution

It makes little sense to younger patients why a healthcare provider would not offer a mobile solution to engagement, including visibility, self-service, and payment options. As they become the most powerful group of consumers and healthcare buyers, providers must listen to their demands for personalization, convenience, and control.

While many providers offer some version of an online patient portal, they find that less than 35% of their patients engage with them through these portals. This is because Millennials aren’t on their computers, they’re on phones and mobile devices. They prefer simplicity and convenience, creating additional usernames and passwords won’t appeal to them or meet their needs. This group of consumers is looking for options that allow for two-way communication, mobile payments, and the ability to complete the check-in process from their mobile devices.

And while nearly 90 percent of financial administrators believe healthcare payments will be collected primarily on mobile devices in the near future, only 20 percent are ready for such capabilities.

Relatient offers providers an easy way to meet this demand with MDPay, an end-to-end messaging solution that uses automation and a patient-centered outreach to improve bill collection. MDPay enables patients to pay via the web, mobile device, or in the office through a seamless solution that can lead providers into the digital revolution.