Millennials, the 75 million Americans aged 18 to 24, are disrupting traditional views on healthcare, and the healthcare industry is listening. When we consider how millennials are changing the healthcare industry, we must take into account the experiences that shaped their consumption preferences – mainly, their financial situation.
Business Insider affirms that millennials took the greatest hit from the Great Recession, leading to “a very tough job market, wage stagnation for those that had jobs, student-loan debt that was increasingly hard to pay, and rising costs of living around the country.” These circumstances may explain why one in five millennials cannot afford routine healthcare. In light of this, millennials are forced to be strategic consumers, especially when it comes to healthcare.
Luckily, the healthcare industry is adapting to millennial consumer trends by way of digital healthcare technology and direct-to-consumer companies, for example – all of which are markets that meet this generation’s desire for convenience and affordability. Here’s how:
Millennials are relying upon online health information
Dating back to dial-up internet and evolving to mobile devices, most millennials haven’t known a time without digital technology. Therefore, a generation who has become accustomed to having access to instant communication and information at their fingertips will require healthcare of the same caliber.
It’s a likely explanation as to why, according to experts at Evoke, 28 percent of millennials admit that they would self-diagnose and 36 percent would treat themselves at home before making a doctor's appointment. More millennials are scouring online platforms like Google for information pertaining to their wellbeing and using mobile health apps like WebMD to address medical ailments on their own.
Aside from direct and immediate support that digital sources provide, many web-users relish the array of information available on any given topic and the capability to fact-check. When it comes down to it, over half of millennials believe online health information is as reliable as information from a doctor.
Millennials are making better use of their time
Older generations are quick to conjure up a bad reputation for younger generations, often referring to “phone-addicted” millennials, in particular, as lazy, incompetent, and entitled.
In reality, millennials know that their time is valuable and therefore are more inclined to use resources wisely. Such is why digital healthcare has become such a desirable commodity for younger generations, with 53 percent preferring telemedicine over traditional in-person doctor’s visits, according to a 2019 Digital Health Consumer Survey.
Millennials appreciate the convenience of online scheduling, virtual consultations, the electronic delivery of test results, and digital prescription options. Telemedicine platforms, for example, that offer services like monthly birth control subscriptions sent right to your door, are appealing for a generation in constant search of more efficient ways to access the services they want, how and when they want them.
Millennials are being practical with their money
Compared to earlier generations, millennials are worse off financially – a price paid for growing up during the Great Recession, adjusting to inflation, and bearing the brunt of the student loan debt crisis. Accordingly, healthcare has become the low man on the totem pole, with 54 percent of millennials admitting to putting off care due to high costs.
According to Pivot Health, “When you combine the cost of the health insurance with the expenses that consumers still have to pay themselves, i.e., premiums, deductibles, coinsurance, etc., many people do not see an immediate benefit through their insurance.” Hence another reason why millennials are turning to telehealth; Virtual visits with a doctor through telehealth can help patients save money by eliminating copays, travel expenses, cancelation fees, and much more.
In short, with millennials expected to become the largest generation yet, they will ultimately hold the most purchasing power and in turn, maintain the greatest influence over the healthcare industry.