younger generations want patient-centric, preventative healthcare at home
by Neoteryx | 5 min read
Times have changed, and so has the average healthcare consumer.
Today’s consumers are more inclined toward digital health solutions, particularly the younger generations. A survey from Accenture found millennials (born after 1985) and Generation Z (born after 1995) are more likely to look for newer healthcare models like telemedicine and telehealth, instead of traditional care models involving in-clinic consultations with a primary care physician.
It appears that the younger generations expect a different standard of care, with a modern approach. Surveys show these generations are dissatisfied with existing healthcare delivery models and less likely to embrace them.
The older generation of baby boomers (born 1946-1964) is more likely to have a primary care physician, but in 2020, has more readily embraced telehealth solutions in the wake of the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Digital solutions offer a safer, "socially distant" means of accessing healthcare while staying safe at home to avoid contagions.
This blog article provides a detailed overview of each demographic’s healthcare attitudes and expectations, and how a majority seem to be shifting to telemedicine, which offers portable medical devices and remote technology for remote patient monitoring and healthcare at home.
Healthcare Attitudes and Approaches by Generation
The Silent Generation
Our elderly, known as the silent generation (born 1928-1945), rely heavily on their doctor’s advice. They respect medical professionals and are more likely to seek out credible experts they can trust.
Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) are now between 56 and 74 years old. Since they comprise an aging generation, they are likely to rely on in-person visits to a traditional doctor for annual check-ups and healthcare solutions. They value high reputations when choosing their care providers and also tend to make decisions based on referrals.
Members of "Gen X" (born 1965-1980) are now between 40 and 55 years old. Like "Boomers," they are more likely to embrace the traditional healthcare model, which starts with a visit to the primary care physician and may include referrals to specialists. Just as they conduct comparison shopping before buying a retail product, this group identifies the best healthcare provider based on consumer research and comparisons. Since "Gen Xers" also are caregivers for their kids and aging parents, they are more likely to visit the doctor frequently.
Also known as "Millennials," members of Generation Y were born between 1981 and 1996. Millennials prefer digital health options. They seek solutions that allow them to communicate with healthcare professionals online via patient portals and social media platforms. They want access to their medical records, and they’d rather make appointments online.
A unique feature about millennials is that they make decisions based on emotional experiences. This means one negative experience with a service provider causes them to change providers. This generation also values online community reviews as a referral source, and may rely on posted testimonials or reviews they read on Yelp, or doctor review sites such as ZocDoc, Health Grades, RateMDs, Vitals, and others. They also value price transparency and make healthcare decisions based on cost.
Some of the young adults in Generation Z, comprised of people born between 1997-2012, are now making their own healthcare decisions. This generation has grown up with the internet and social media, so they are digital natives. Because digital transactions are the norm for this group, they prefer accessible and convenient health solutions for their busy lives. Their primary health solutions include remote devices, and telemedicine, and telehealth options that include online communications, scheduling and payment options.
Their digital approach to health and wellness explains why most Gen Zers don’t have a primary care physician and are less likely to visit the doctor due to inconvenience, lack of time, and cost. They don't appear to favor the traditional healthcare model, partly because they don't always have enough input in the decision-making process.
The younger generations, Y and Z, appear to be more interested in sustaining good health on their own, taking a preventative healthcare approach by self-monitoring their wellness with the help of digital tools. These groups are most likely to purchase wearable devices that track their health and fitness, and are most likely to order "health kits" that allow them to collect their own biological specimens at home and, based on the results, take active measures to correct any health deficits.
Healthcare Preferences in a Post-COVID-19 World
The emergence of COVID-19 has led to many changes, especially in the healthcare sector. Telehealth, for example, has become the go-to solution for a majority of patients, regardless of their age. The convenience, increased safety, and ability to schedule appointments sooner are some of the advantages of telemedicine and telehealth. While some people were initially skeptical about remote care, studies show high patient satisfaction with this healthcare model.
Healthcare practices we are likely to encounter in a post-COVID-19 world:
Expansion of Remote Care Pathways: In addition to traditional medical appointments with social distancing protocols, providers are now opting for more telehealth or virtual appointments using platforms like Zoom and FaceTime. Social distancing requirements compel all stakeholders (healthcare providers, patients, insurance companies) to adapt to virtual interfacing plus telemedicine technology. Hospitals and clinics are employing everything from wearable heart monitors that digitally transmit results to a hospital computer system in real time to remote blood collection methods using the Mitra® device, which eliminate in-person visits to a lab or clinic for a blood draw.
Remote sample collection kits eliminate the risk of exposure to possible contagions in a healthcare setting. With no training and minimal instruction, remote kits and devices enable patients to collect their own specimen samples at home and mail them directly to the lab for "socially distant" testing. Doctors can access lab results and use the data to conduct remote patient monitoring for the increased safety of vulnerable patients. Similarly, health insurance companies have begun covering tools for remote patient monitoring to align financial incentives with virtual care models.
Privacy and Security of Digital Health Platforms: Digital health platforms enhance patient safety and provide much-needed convenience. However, virtual two-way video environments are susceptible to cyberattacks. Studies cite more than 180 healthcare data breaches that occurred in February-July 2020, a 100% increase from the data breaches that occurred during the same period the previous year. In the coming months, we can expect to hear more about measures being taken by large healthcare systems to protect patient data and security.
The current trend to more telehealth and telemedicine means that we will see more healthcare providers shifting to patient-centric methods of care, including an increased use of portable health tools, such as wearable devices and remote specimen collection kits. These solutions are more convenient, and have the added benefit of making people of all generations more involved in monitoring and managing their own health, rather than relying 100% on their doctor.
For a visual snapshot of generational attitudes to healthcare, see the infographic below, courtesy of Etactics:
To learn more about remote specimen collection kits for patient-centric healthcare at home, visit: