Millennials━ages 18 to 34━are changing the landscape of healthcare and are one of the driving forces for more healthcare technology, according to studies like Salesforce’s “State of the Connected Patient” report. The report found that many Millennials had a limited relationship with their primary care physicians, and that they prefer to engage with their providers through digital health technology. In another study by Makovsky and Kelton, Millennials were found to be the most likely age group to be interested in digital health. In fact, they were twice as likely to be interested than those aged 66 or older.
However, age isn’t the only factor that influences how an individual engages with the healthcare system and emerging technologies. The study found that while Millennials are helping to shape and encourage these new technologies, patients from any age group are interested in digital support for certain health conditions like diabetes and cancer.
Millennials have the greatest interest in digital health and are the largest generation in the U.S., making up one-third of the total population. For startups in the healthcare space, it is important to look at how they are influencing the industry now and into the future.
How patients and providers communicate with each other is changing. Younger generations want more options to communicate with physicians. Older generations tend to prefer more traditional forms of communication. However, the interest in using digital health tools there is the problem is that many people don’t know that they exist.
In a recent survey by Xerox, 35 percent of respondents said that they didn’t know an online patient portal was available to them, while 57 percent said they’d be more proactive in their personal health if they had access to one. However, for all age groups security of these online communication channels is a main concern. In order to meet legal and industry requirements and be successful in the digital health space, health tech startups must have patient privacy and security as a primary focus.
According to the State of the Connected Patient report, over 60 percent of Millennials are interested in telehealth. Younger generations want convenient healthcare solutions that fit into their schedules. Instead of sitting in a waiting room for their turn for routine care, many Millennials are opting for virtual appointments by video chats. As telehealth becomes more popular, more providers are embracing it too: over 62 percent of physicians offer telehealth services.
In addition to using technology to have appointments outside of the doctor’s office, younger generations want to use mobile technology like tablets, smartphones and wearable devices to manage their health. Not only do they want to use them, but they want their doctors to use them too. Approximately 73 percent of Millennials would like their doctors to use mobile technology to share information with them during appointments.
Healthcare is becoming an increasingly consumer-oriented model. Patients want more transparency about practices and prices and will research online before making an appointment or using a product. For example, an estimated 76 percent of Millennials will look at online reviews from other patients before selecting a doctor. In a recent survey by PNC Healthcare, half of Millennials and Gen X-ers (ages 34 to 54) said that they used online review websites like Yelp and Healthgrades to learn more about a physician.
Digital Payment Solutions
Millennials are perhaps the strongest proponents of digital technology, especially when it comes to paying for goods and services. They are accustomed to paying with cards and online forms rather than with checks and other paper payment methods. In fact, a recent survey found that more than 20 percent of Millennials have never written a check to pay a bill. They are all about convenience, and they expect their healthcare providers to have easy and transparent online payment solutions.
Millennials have grown up in a world where news is delivered in real-time. For example, instead of tuning it to watch the evening news, they’ll often find out about events seconds after they happen thanks to Twitter, Facebook and other social media channels.
Their desire to shorten the timeline also extends to healthcare. For example, today, getting the results from a blood test could take weeks. Healthcare innovations like Theranos – the technology that can perform hundreds of tests in just a few hours using a single pinprick of blood – are aiming to shorten the timeline, costs and hassle of traditional procedures. Health tech startups that are able to facilitate a faster turnaround and streamline processes will be more likely to attract Millennials.
For startups in the healthcare, analyzing trends in the Millennial population is an important strategic business move. This is especially true for those that enter into the healthcare technology industry. Studies show that Millennials are likely to be the earliest adopters and biggest proponents of digital health technologies. Healthcare providers and startups that ignore how younger generations are influencing the industry, will risk losing them to more innovative competitors.