Baby boomers are the biggest consumers of health care at the moment, but they are no longer the largest demographic. Millennials have overtaken boomers as the largest living generation, which means that the healthcare industry needs to adjust its approach to patient outreach. Television ads are a great way to reach older patients but connecting with millennials will require a digital transformation in how companies and healthcare providers communicate with younger generations.
Compared with their elders, millennials are more likely to make their healthcare choices a social endeavor by seeking recommendations — in person and online — with people that they know, according to a survey by voice and language technology company Nuance Communications. The survey of 3,000 people found that 70 percent of millennials choose their primary care doctor from friends and family. By comparison, just 41 percent of those 65 and older would choose their doctor based on such recommendations.
Furthermore, the survey results show that millennials are more likely to research healthcare information on the Internet compared with other demographic groups. According to Nuance, 54 percent of millennials search for health information online before seeing a physician. The global average for all other age groups is just 39 percent.
Behavioral differences are also apparent in how millennials address problems in health care. When millennials encounter problems, they are more likely to turn to friends first — before telling their doctors. According to the Nuance survey, 60 percent of patients age 18 to 24 tell their friends about these problems first. By comparison, 51 percent of patients 65 or older tell their doctors first. The survey findings suggest the need for healthcare providers to develop digital strategies now to adequately reach the patients of the future.
“We know a huge number of patients today are looking up symptoms and health information online, so it’s just a matter of time until they shop for physicians and communicate grievances that way, too,” said Tony Oliva, National Medical Director of Nuance.