It’s a truism of modern life – the older a generation gets the more healthcare its members inevitably consume.
Unsurprisingly, the largest group of healthcare consumers in the U.S. today is Baby Boomers followed by Generation X with both cohorts displaying a distinct uptick in specialty care as they age. Given the larger proportion of healthcare services going to a mature demographic, healthcare organizations have understandably focused on care for these older populations – namely, Boomers. But a generational tsunami is looming on the horizon. With Gen Y and Gen Z collectively comprising nearly half the U.S. population, their impending influence can no longer be ignored.
Known as digital natives, the impact of Gen Y and Gen Z extends beyond their digital dexterity. These disruptive influencers are early adopters of technology and have high expectations for all of their consumer-facing experiences, a desire that cannot be addressed with a dose of digital alone. When it comes to healthcare, these generations are simply not content with the current state of affairs. According to Accenture’s 2019 Digital Health Consumer Survey, Generations Y and Z are “Dissatisfied” and “Very Dissatisfied” with traditional healthcare. From convenience to care, these generations want more than they’re finding in the standard healthcare practices today.
So, what’s missing for these younger healthcare consumers? Simply put, they want the same kind of experiences they’ve come to expect from retail brands. In order for the healthcare sector to adapt to the challenges put forth by these savvy consumers, organizations must look to embrace new ways to optimize the healthcare experience. From clinic locations to wait times, Gen Y and Gen Z hate wasting time. They were some of the first patients to visit pop-up clinics in their neighborhood drug stores and to see the benefit of signing in on an app before they show up for their appointments. But they also want the best care with effective treatments and transparency ranking among their highest concerns.
The same technology disruption that came to retail and banking is now on healthcare’s doorstep. While Gen Y and Gen Z welcome digital, they’re also demanding. They want meaningful tech – test results, prescription refills, reminders and medical records access – among other forms of digital delivery. But it’s more than technology tweaking. All of the consumer advances over the last two decades have primed younger audiences to expect a more curated, personalized experience than most legacy healthcare organizations are prepared to provide. What’s in order is a top-to-bottom rethinking of the consumer healthcare experience.
While Generations Y and Z are pushing the healthcare industry to transform the consumer healthcare experience, the generational divide between Z and Boomers may not be as wide as we might imagine. Shared values spanning older and younger generations can be found in the area of care delivery. For example, younger and older patient demographics both crave more and better communication from their healthcare providers. Further, all generations want and use retail options. Non-traditional healthcare services among all generations is on the rise – with 57% using outpatient surgicenters and 47% using walk-in or retail clinics. The common denominator is consumer-centricity.
While it might be tempting to put off transformation, it’s clear that change is coming whether healthcare is ready for it or not. While younger generations are throwing down the gauntlet, it’s not only a generational test to healthcare. Disruption is challenging healthcare institutions to deliver better care across all generations. In the next article in our healthcare transformation series, we will address how banishing legacy, institution-first thinking and focusing on consumer-centricity will drive a more meaningful healthcare journey for multiple generations. To talk with one of our healthcare industry experts, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.