4 Ways to Win Over Millennials

December 27, 2019

Winning the hearts and minds of millennials-as well as their wallets-will be far more challenging than it was for past generations, according to a new report.

Healthcare will need to re-think its entire approach to winning the business of the millennial generation, according to a new survey and report.

According to a Kaufman Hall survey and report, millennials, at 78 million, recently surpassed baby boomers as the largest segment of the U.S. population and contribute about one-quarter of total healthcare spending. They desire improved healthcare access, value, and experience. Seventy-six percent of millennials trust Amazon, Apple, and Google to steer their healthcare journeys more than hospitals and health systems. They also trust these healthcare industry disruptors to develop the best online tools to help them find and select the right healthcare services (42% vs. just 20% of people aged 45 and older). Older adults are more inclined to trust their health insurance companies, or local hospital and health systems.

For the report, Kaufman Hall surveyed 5,900 consumers in 2019, including more than 2,100 millennials, with approximately 50% of the millennials being female. 

What’s a key takeaway from the report? “Mostly, it’s that millennials tend to view the healthcare industry very differently and have different expectations for interacting with it than the generations that came before them,” says Paul Crnkovich, managing director in charge of Kaufman Hall’s consumer practice. “They aren’t intimidated by the physician/patient relationship and aren’t as willing to give control over their health-or anything related to it-to physicians or health plans the way past generations did. They see healthcare as much more transactional, something they should be able to order up on-demand just like everything else in their lives.

“They also have more trust in online companies such as Amazon, Apple and Google to develop the best online tools to help them find and select the right healthcare services than those 45 and older (42% versus 20%). Underscoring this online preference is the fact that 43% of millennials begin their healthcare journeys online, and half prefer to schedule their medical appointments online, versus 40% for the 45-to-64-year-old group and just 20% for those aged 65 and older,” Crnkovich says.

If healthcare wants to attract this massive younger generation and their children, healthcare organizations need to change-and change quickly, according to Crnkovich.

“There is so much opportunity here,” he says. “It’s important to understand this generation so healthcare organizations can take advantage. Healthcare providers must see their organizations, and the industry as a whole, through the eyes of these millennials and start adjusting their marketing, their operations, their customer experience and everything else about their businesses to meet the requirements of these demanding, discerning consumers.”

According to Crnkovich, there has been conversation over the years about the changes the tech-savvy, instant-messaging millennial generation would bring to healthcare, but it was really just speculation.

“Now that the oldest of that generation are in their 30s, it was time to discover just how drastic and pervasive the changes would need to be,” he says. “Especially since many will not only be making care decisions for themselves, but also for their young children and aging parents.”

Related: Generational Differences In Digital Health Adoption

Growing influence

As millennials age, their influence will continue to grow, according to Crnkovich.

“If they follow the patterns of past generations, they will acquire more chronic conditions as they get older and take up more of the healthcare spend,” he says. “Since they are not there yet, however, they also represent an opportunity for wellness-oriented, value-based care to make a profound difference in their later outcomes. If providers and payers are more effective at keeping them healthy-which is the goal of value-based care-we could see a slowdown or maybe even a reversal of the skyrocketing cost of care.”

Growing up during the Great Recession definitely had its effect on their thinking, according to Crnkovich. “Unlike past generations, millennials are more cost-conscious and focused on experience over ‘stuff’,” he says. “This means they’re willing to shop for healthcare and compare pricing and value rather than making a decision about a provider once, and then continuing to go there. There’s no loyalty-you have to win their business every time.”

Also, due to the Internet, they have a lot more access to a lot more information, good and bad, and they know how to use it, he says. “They also have tremendous expectations for how much information will be available. Providers need to give them the information they desire, or they will seek it elsewhere,” Crnkovich says. “Millennials want and expect far more information to be available online than earlier generations. They want to be able to find accurate cost estimates for care and which providers accept their insurance. They also want the option of conducting video visits with a physician or nurse, and the ability to call outside of normal business hours to schedule an appointment.”

Millennials also don’t want to wait. When asked how long they would wait for a primary care physician to see them for a minor injury or illness before choosing another option, 63% said having to wait more than one day would cause them to look elsewhere, and 23% of those said more than four hours, according to the report.

“If their providers can’t accommodate millennials on their own schedules, they’ll find someone who can, whether it’s via another provider, telehealth or virtual visits, or a walk-in clinic,” he says.

Based on the report, Crnkovich offers four ways to attract millennials:

  •  Legacy providers must transition from an internal, hospital-centric emphasis on efficiency to an external focus on capturing consumer demand. “Part of this thinking is they must move from ‘satisfying’ consumers to delighting them by exceeding their expectations for convenience, service and value,” he says. “Doing so will drive new patient growth and increase patient loyalty, resulting in improved financial performance.”

  • Focus on the “Big 3 + 1” of access, experience, and pricing, all supported by, and grounded in, a solid infrastructure of leadership, branding, insights, analytics and digital strategy. “Access is all about the digital front door, i.e., providing the type of 24/7 on-demand access millennials are accustomed to in other areas of their lives,” Crnkovich says. “Experience means delivering high levels of service and real-time feedback opportunities.”

  • For pricing, organizations must recognize that millennials are highly price-sensitive, which requires providing new, lower-cost routine care delivery models and easy-to-find, accurate online pricing.

  • Develop the infrastructure that enables a solid foundation of insights and analytics to fuel decisions about the other three aspects.

 

“The bottom line is that hospitals, health systems and payers must remake themselves to become more like consumer brands,” Crnkovich says. “It’s the key to succeeding both now and in the future.”