In the March 20, 2020 edition of Strategic Health Care Marketing, Althea Fung interviewed Brent Walker, SVP Marketing & Analytics for PatientBond, for her article, “Millennials Are Sick: What Health Care Organizations Need to Know About the Shifting Health Care Landscape.”
As Ms. Fung points out in the beginning of her article, the 2019 Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Index Report found one-third of Millennials – people born between 1981 and 1996 – have a health condition that lowers their life expectancy and quality of life. In comparison to Generation Xers at the same age, Millennials have significantly higher incidences of several common health conditions, including Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, and major depression.
Understanding Millennials and what motivate healthy behaviors is critical for healthcare providers to help this generation and set the table for many years of patient loyalty.
While Millennials share many characteristics, Walker points out that, “Millennials are not one big homogenous mass that thinks in lockstep.” Treating them all with the same, “one size fits all” approach will produce suboptimal results. Psychographic segmentation is a key for personalizing patient engagement and experience to drive significantly better outcomes, whether clinical, marketing or patient payment collections.
Psychographics pertain to people’s attitudes, beliefs, values, lifestyles and personalities, and are core to their motivations, priorities and communication preferences. Psychographic segmentation groups people according to these shared characteristics and enhances one’s chances of truly personalizing healthcare consumer engagement by using segment-specific words, phrases, and channel preferences.
PatientBond has identified five psychographic segments among healthcare consumers:
- Self Achievers: Proactive and wellness-oriented, Self Achievers set personal goals and like the challenge of accomplishing them. They invest in their health and appearance and trust physicians and other healthcare professionals as the most credible sources of information to keep them healthy.
- Balance Seekers: Also proactive and wellness-oriented, Balance Seekers are independent and seek options and choices in their care, defining success for themselves. They are less likely to view physicians as the most credible source of health information, instead looking for information online and among peers.
- Priority Jugglers: Reactive with personal health issues, Priority Jugglers will make sure their families and loved ones get the care they need. Busy with many responsibilities, they value sacrificing themselves for others. Duty, commitment and dedication are important values for Priority Jugglers.
- Direction Takers: Reactive with their health but relatively high utilizers of the healthcare system, Direction Takers look to healthcare professionals for directive guidance. Direction Takers expect physicians to know the answers and don’t like being asked a lot of questions. However, they are not Direction Followers – they might not follow physician recommendations if they can’t be easily incorporated into their daily routine.
- Willful Endurers: The most reactive – and often disengaged – when it comes to health and wellness, Willful Endurers live in “the here and now.” They do not like waiting and want immediate gratification. They are not necessarily unhealthy, but they do not generally take preventative health measures.
Each psychographic segment requires a different engagement strategy to influence decisions and behaviors.
Among the descriptions above, one might conclude that most Millennials fall into the Willful Endurer segment based on stereotypes of that generation. To be clear, 40% of Millennials are, in fact, Willful Endurers, so there is strong representation of that segment among this generation. However, that means 60% of Millennials do NOT act like Willful Endurers, and a healthcare provider risks alienating the majority of Millennial patients engaging them according to generational stereotypes.
Similarities Among Millennials
While there is diversity of health attitudes and behaviors among the psychographic segments across the Millennial generation, there are some general similarities that can help healthcare providers efficiently meet these consumers’ needs.
Because Millennials are accustomed to immediate service in a digital world, it is unsurprising that these patients are more likely to visit an urgent care or retail clinic rather than wait for a primary care appointment. Millennials are also more likely to adopt telehealth and virtual care visits.
Millennials are also more likely to rely on social media and online ratings/reviews to choose a healthcare provider. It is critical for providers to actively manage their online reputations. Additionally, social media and online reviews allow providers to pinpoint opportunities for improvement. If Millennial patients feel that they are being heard and their needs are being met, it will engender loyalty among a population with many patient years ahead of them.
Millennials also value price transparency. Millennials are twice as likely as Baby Boomers to want a cost estimate before a procedure. This does not mean Millennials are unwilling to pay for medical services; many are willing to invest in their health but want to be sure of the overall value of their purchase.