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4 Trends in the Way Millennials Approach Healthcare

From an insistence upon price transparency to increased awareness of mental health issues, how 26- to 40-year-olds are changing care, and caregivers.

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We've long known millennial preferences and consumer behaviors have diverged sharply from their Boomer and Gen-X predecessors. As this generation of 26- to 40-year-olds matures and increasingly uses more healthcare services, its disruptive force in healthcare is undeniable. For those in that industry, it's important to understand these changing attitudes to provide the kind of services that meet and anticipate evolving needs. And for healthcare innovators, there has never been a better time to develop new ways of delivering and managing care.

Four major trends in the way millennials are approaching this subject:

1. Virtual care options are vital

Millennials came of age in a time of digital transformation, to the point now where nearly everything is in within the reach of a smartphone. It's no surprise then that they want virtual options when it comes to healthcare, too — expect the ability to book appointments, refill prescriptions and review test results online rather than waiting for a call from a doctor. According to a survey from my own company, Ambra Health, 80% of millennials prefer easy online access to traditional medical records and scheduling.

Many also appreciate having a consultation or follow-up with caregivers via video chat rather than spending an entire morning dealing with office bureaucracy for what will likely amount to a 10-minute visit. Naturally, they realize that many aspects of care must be done in person, but are still likely to seek out providers who have established complementary virtual and online options.

Related: How Virtual Care Can Close Healthcare Disparities

2. Online access to providers and specialists

The days of having the same family doctor for decades seem to be over in our highly mobile society. Instead, millennials are increasingly fond of app-based services such as ZocDoc, through which they can search doctors by office location, availability, accepted insurance plans and other criteria. An appointment booking app like Teladoc makes it possible to see a doctor online at any time, day or night, provided that users are not particular about which doctor they're seeing. This fits a more on-demand modern lifestyle, and is especially applicable when the need is to see a caregiver about a relatively simple or common condition.

Online reviews also play an important role in this generation's healthcare decision making. When choosing a new primary care doctor or specialist, websites like Healthgrades provide ample reviews, allowing potential patients to learn a great deal about a medical professional ahead of time. A survey from PNC Healthcare showed that almost half of millennials and Gen-Xers check online reviews, compared to 40% of baby boomers and only 28% of seniors.

Related: Top 5 Healthcare Tech Trends Poised for Growth in 2022

3. Personable and personalized care

Millennials typically aren't willing to tolerate a bad bedside manner. They tend to be more vocal about wanting providers who take the time to listen and show compassion, and who have an interest in both their mental and physical health. A Welltok survey showed that they are, in fact, overwhelmingly interested in such personalized and engaged healthcare experience, one where the caregiver knows more about their wellbeing interests, goals and motivations.

Aware of this trend, some providers have been proactively appealing to this need. For instance, Tia (Spanish for "aunt") is a membership service directed at women that provides a collaborative healthcare team that focuses on a personally tailored approach, "from prevention to root-cause diagnosis to lifestyle-centric treatment." The company also describes a commitment to inclusive care for transgender and non-binary people, whose health needs are often overlooked.

4. Expectation of pricing transparency

This generational group of 26- to 40-year-olds frequently reports being tired of the old, "See the doctor first, know the cost later" method of care. Instead, they are increasingly looking for providers willing to be transparent about the costs of visits and procedures up front. The previously mentioned PNC Healthcare survey also found that 41% of millennials were more inclined to request and receive estimates before undergoing treatment.

The industry has also been witness to an increase in insurance-free healthcare options that employ a monthly subscription model for access to providers and other benefits, an approach also known as direct primary care. One example is Mira, offering a $60-per-month plan for access to virtual primary care, lab tests, prescriptions and imaging referrals with no deductible and small co-pays.

Related: 5 Healthcare IT Trends Entrepreneurs Should Watch in 2022

As the first generation to grow up with digital transformation, millennials are not looking for their grandparents' healthcare; they want services that fit a mobile lifestyle in which technology and automation play large roles. Paying attention to these trends will help the industry grow to better accommodate a group that's making up an ever-larger share of its market.

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