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Healthcare Goes Digital: You Can Thank Millennials
June 16th, 2017

Healthcare Goes Digital: You Can Thank Millennials

Virginia Fair

Like the Baby Boomers who gave birth to them, Millennials are leaving their influential fingerprints on whatever they touch. No more so than in healthcare.

Like the Baby Boomers who gave birth to them, Millennials are leaving their influential fingerprints on whatever they touch. The majority have reached the age of 26, and are off their parent’s health insurance. So, one of the surfaces they are touching is healthcare. King Midas might have had the golden touch, but millennials prefer digital. So, if you look closely, you’ll find their digital fingerprints  – on both sides of the stethoscope.

Millennial patients

Consult the internet before the doctor

The economy awaiting them upon entering the workforce has improved but still, many are just getting on their feet job-wise. Although they have health insurance, they are shell-shocked by co-pays and deductibles. As a result, they consult Web MD and other online sites before deciding whether or not to see a doctor. If they need a second opinion, they turn to social media.

Crowdsource doctors

Millennials don’t believe in taking chances when going out for the night. They check restaurants on Yelp and peruse movie reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. They do the same when looking for a doctor. Believe it or not, you can yelp a physician to see what others say about his care.  According to a HIT Consultants survey 50% used Yelp or Healthgrades when shopping for a primary care physician.

Don’t commit

Millennials choose to be safe rather than sorry when it comes to committing to another year of health insurance.  50% told a PNC healthcare survey they checked their options online for before re-upping during their last re-enrollment period. Their parents and grandparents were wary too. But only 25% checked online. 38% called the insurance companies, and 45% referred to printed materials.

Are interested in state of the art collaborative medicine (long distance!)

Millennials are not the only generation that expresses an interest in telehealth. It’s just that a higher percentage, do – 74% of them according to a Harris Poll survey.

But they don’t like talking on their phones

Another Harris Poll survey jointly undertaken with Salesforce found that 71% of millennial patients wish their doctors used mobile apps to book appointments.

Millennial doctors

As the years go by, millennial patients will find more and more doctors are fulfilling their wishes. Not surprisingly, most millennial physicians have the same preferences as millennial patients. The majority agree with them about third party websites. 71% encourage patients to do research before coming to an appointment.

They have very different ideas about how doctors should work than Boomer doctors or even their immediate predecessor Gen X’ers.

54% report they would refuse to work in an emergency room that wasn’t computerized. The remaining 46% said they would “consider it”.

A John Hopkins study found that interns spend  12% of their time with patients versus 40% on the computer. This raises questions of whether their bedside manners and examination skills will suffer. But is also posits that it better prepares them for the increasing need for electronic documentation.

Even when they power down their computers, they remain connected. Millennial physicians think nothing of pulling out their cell phones anywhere, whether in examining rooms or bedside. They’re not texting friends, however. More likely they’re checking for the latest way to treat a condition. Or perhaps they’re double-checking a particular drug on an EHR that links directly with databases listing correct dosages.

Something to think about

Millennials are currently between the ages of 17 and 34. Many will be the physicians of the future, currently serving as residents, interns or in med school. Others are high schoolers with medical ambitions.  This next generation of physicians will be far more comfortable with technology than generations that preceded them. We can expect them to pressure hospitals and other healthcare facilities to provide them with the state of the technology systems. These, in turn, will make patient care more immediate and efficient. So yes, we can thank millennials.

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