Healthcare in the United States is evolving. Factors such as politics and policy to generational differences effect how healthcare is approached. As more millennials enter the healthcare market, it’s becoming clear that their approach to wellness is much different than that of their parents. And, these differences will be the driving force in how the healthcare landscape changes.
Millennials take their healthcare personally. In contrast with preceding generations, millennials grew up wired – with everything at their fingertips and just a click away. They rely on their own ability to research and compare services as opposed to the previous generation – who left most of the decision-making processes surrounding healthcare up to their physicians. While word of mouth is still considered a sound reference, millennials are more likely to utilize the internet for their healthcare searches, references, and ratings on everything from physicians to surgical suites to which pharmacy can offer the best value (1).
Growing up in an on-demand generation, millennials expect the same from their healthcare. Convenience is a huge driving factor for this generation.
Time and Money
Regular doctor visits are viewed as unnecessary expenses and half of millennials claim they avoid seeing primary care physicians as a way to save money. Further, more than half also admit to using retail clinics (such as those found in pharmacies), urgent care centers, and emergency rooms for their non-emergency healthcare needs (2).
The current process of securing an appointment with a doctor, coupled with the necessity to take time from work to attend the appointment, makes the systemic approach to healthcare unappealing to the millennial generation.
It comes as little surprise to learn that millennials tend to think of themselves as “already healthy” – youth does tend to have a higher percentage of a healthier population. Add to this the explosion of health-related information at their fingertips: nutrition, new exercise regimes, and a plethora of wellness apps that help keep them active and aware of their health status, and the result is a generation more likely to push routine healthcare off as an unnecessary expense.
Failure to receive routine and preventative care, however, can raise the risk of experiencing an increased number of healthcare issues in the future. So where can healthcare and millennials find common ground?
What Can Be Done
Technology and convenience seems to be the key to capturing, and keeping, the attention of this generation. Luckily, there are several actions that can be taken, across the spectrum of healthcare delivery, that will make your healthcare organization more appealing to millennials:
- Remain open to emerging technologies that can help streamline the prescription process
- Ensure your team – from pharmacy technicians to cashiers – are educated on emerging technologies being considered for your pharmacy
- Think about expanding your businesses offerings to include technologies such as blood-pressure machines to test for hypertension and home blood-sugar monitoring devices
- Remember, you’re sometimes the first stop for millennials – so keep a fair amount of over-the-counter medications in stock, and make your staff available to answer questions customers may have
- Consider convenience: try positioning your pharmacy as a wellness center – a one-stop immunization and/or vaccination center offering low cost, quick (convenient) alternatives for those who may not utilize a primary physician
- Adopt and offer emerging technologies such as prescription auto-fill and e-prescriptions
- Whenever possible, offer discounts: millennials are already avoiding in-person doctor visits to save money – by being able to offer lower costs for generic and over-the-counter products, you can increase your customer base and your profit margin
- Consider mobile applications that reduce the time and effort needed to secure an appointment at your office
- Look into whether online wellness visits are an option for your practice. Being able to consult via secure video connections may be key in getting more millennials into the habit of regular preventative care
It’s difficult to change culture. Millennials have grown up in a world of convenient access to just about everything. They’re not willing to go backward to their parents’ culture. In fact, they fully expect the systems of today to evolve and meet their needs. This can often be a challenging prospect for healthcare industries, however technologically advanced options are becoming more commonplace every day.
By keeping an open mind to emerging technologies and how they can aid your customer and your organization, you will be on the fast-track to longevity in an ever-changing healthcare market.
Has your pharmacy adopted any emerging technologies? Which technologies have you brought on and what changes – positive or negative – have you experienced? We’d love to know and may even use those experiences in future topics. If you’d like to add your experience, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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- Berkowitz, E. N., & Shewe, C. D. Generational Cohorts Hold the Key to Understanding Patients and Health Care Providers: Coming-of-Age Experiences Influence Health Care Behaviors for a Lifetime. Health Marketing Quarterly, 28, 190-204. doi:10.1080/07359683.2011.572029