While the aging baby boomer population still dominates healthcare utilization, this cohort is shrinking, having peaked at 78.8 million in 1999. Meanwhile, millennials currently outnumber baby boomers by approximately 11 million—and their numbers won’t be on the decline anytime soon. No surprise, then, that millennials are a hot topic across the healthcare industry.
The focus in recent years has centered on engagement, particularly among health insurance providers looking to bring younger, healthier adults to their member roles. But engagement is only one part of the equation. How do you move from buying a health insurance policy or choosing a healthcare provider to improving millennial health outcomes?
Understanding Millennial Attitudes About Health and Wellness
Like any large population, some generalizations can be made about millennials. As digital natives, for example, millennials are accustomed to instant access to friends, entertainment and shopping. Naturally, they expect access to healthcare to be just as easy and convenient as the smartphones in their pockets.
In addition, Pew Research points to millennials racial and ethnic diversity, which is considerably greater than previous generations, noting “This change is driven partly by the growing number of Hispanic and Asian immigrants, whose ranks have increased since the Boomer generation.”
Looking at this diversity even closer, 38 percent of millennials in the U.S. were bilingual five years ago, up from 22 percent a decade earlier. In some regions, such as Los Angeles County, those numbers climb, inspiring the LA Times to dub this demographic the “billennial generation” in a 2015 article.
How Psychographic Segmentation of Healthcare Consumers Helps
But offering digital wellness tools or communicating in preferred languages won’t engage millennial healthcare consumers on their own. Why? Because despite the similarities that the population shares, millennials, like other generations, are made up of individuals who bring different life experiences and expectations to the table. The broad strokes of demographic data or shared diagnoses don’t paint the detailed picture needed to motivate behavior change.
Making measurable progress on millennial health outcomes requires healthcare organizations to better understand how individual attitudes, beliefs and preferences influence long-term engagement and compliance with health advice. The psychographic segmentation model developed by c2b solutions classifies healthcare consumers based on individual characteristics—what they believe, who they trust and how they want to engage.
Proactive and wellness-oriented Self Achievers embrace tools that help them check the boxes when it comes to health.
Independent, but proactive Balance Seekers prefer to understand all the options—not necessarily only those from healthcare professionals—before making a healthcare decision.
Busy, distracted Priority Jugglers put job and family concerns ahead of personal health and require more interactions to keep them focused on healthy behaviors.
Malleable Direction Takers trust healthcare providers and want to follow health advice, but may struggle to do so.
Independent, Willful Endurers live in the moment, making them the least proactive and most difficult to motivate.
Research shows that 31 percent of the general population represents Willful Endurers, but that number climbs when looking at the millennial population alone in the graph below. The result is not surprising; after all younger people tend to have a more laissez-faire attitude than older adults. But it does pose a challenge when it comes to moving the needle on health outcomes for millennials.
Tactics for Attracting and Keeping Millennial Patients
Forewarned, however, is forearmed. With insights from psychographic segmentation, healthcare organizations can fine-tune their communications to address the differences between millennial patients. What else can you do to win over millennials and drive behavior change to positively impact millennial health outcomes?
1. Encourage the selection of a primary care physician. Continuity of care is an important component of improving millennial health outcomes, but a Kaiser Health News reports that 45 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds have no primary care provider, compared to 28 percent of those age 30 to 49. This lack of a primary care provider has a negative impact on health.
KHN also points to a JAMA Internal Medicine insight, noting that “… nearly half of patients who sought treatment at an urgent care clinic for a cold, the flu or a similar respiratory ailment left with an unnecessary and potentially harmful prescription for antibiotics, compared with 17 percent of those seen in a doctor’s office.” Speaking with KHN, Dr. Michael Munger, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, said, “We all need care that is coordinated and longitudinal. Regardless of how healthy you are, you need someone who knows you.” Dr. Munger and other experts emphasize that the best time to choose a primary care physician is before a health crisis happens, not in the moment of crisis.
2. Offer convenient health services. KHN points out, “Many young adults are turning to a fast-growing constellation of alternatives: retail clinics carved out of drugstores or big-box retail outlets, free-standing urgent care centers that tout evening and weekend hours and online telemedicine sites that offer virtual visits without having to leave home.” Healthcare IT News reports that 40 percent of millennials say that telemedicine is an ‘extremely’ or ‘very important’ option when considering healthcare providers.
Other convenience-related changes that healthcare providers can undertake include offering same-day, evening and weekend appointment times, along with online or digital tools for making appointments, accessing health data and paying for healthcare services. Mott Blair, a family physician in Wallace, N.C., told KHN, “We do far more messaging and interaction through an electronic interface. I think millennials expect that kind of connectivity.”
3. Address cost barriers. Just as convenience is a must-have for attracting millennials, price transparency plays an important role as well. Retail clinics and telemedicine services tend to post the costs of different services up front. Studies show that 44 to 64 percent of patients admit to skipping necessary care because of cost. Naturally, the younger, less financially-secure millennials are particularly inclined to care avoidance. However, millennials are also more likely to turn to their smartphones or laptops to research treatment options, costs and quality ratings. Greater price transparency, particularly for basic services, could help millennial patients overcome their hesitancy to engage with traditional healthcare organizations.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to improving millennial health outcomes. But healthcare organizations that answer the expectations of millennials in general—and complement those services and health management tools with targeted communications based individual psychographic segments—will go a long way toward achieving that goal.
Take a closer look at how psychographic segmentation can help your healthcare organization attract millennials and download our whitepaper.