Millennial Healthcare Needs and Engagement Strategies

February 7, 2020 Maria Perrin

Millennials get called all sorts of things: cynical, entitled, savvy, inventive.

Whatever your thoughts about this generation, you can’t ignore them. In the U.S., they are the largest generational group ever to have existed. Over 75 million strong, millennials account for nearly 40% of working age Americans.

If your business depends on people choosing your product or service over others, you need to woo this group. And you can’t woo them the same way you did baby boomers.

Who are the Millennials (AKA Gen Y)?

Born between 1981 and 1996, they have lived through the Great Recession, 9/11, the housing crisis, and the advent and ubiquity of the digital lifestyle. They carry nearly 1.5 trillion dollars in student debt, and fewer own their own home than previous generations.

As a group they are cash strapped today, but by 2030 they are set to inherit over $68 trillion from their boomer parents and their wealth will increase fivefold.

 How do they think about health?

They are as worried about their health as their grandparents, probably because they tend to self-diagnose with the help of “Dr. Google.” They are cynical about healthcare. Sixty percent regularly research illnesses online, yet only 40% believe in the value of regular preventative care. Only 58% of millennials trust their doctor, as opposed to 71% of the general population.

Their online retail experiences drive them to expect and demand first-rate customer service and speedy, frictionless convenience. They are used to a variety of choices and they aren’t loyal. One negative experience is enough to make them change providers as readily as they change socks (or jobs)!

The days of hour-long waits in a doctor’s scruffy waiting room are history.

How do I reach them?

Traditional advertising is essentially invisible to this group (often literally, through heavy use of adblockers). You need to interact with them where they spend their time—on their phones and through social media. And the best ads don’t look or feel like ads.

While Facebook currently still has the greatest reach of any social platform, younger millennials are gravitating to the more visual content on Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. The usership of these platforms is constantly shifting and new services can arise and gain traction quickly, so it’s important to keep up with current trends.

Manage your reputation because this group trusts peer recommendations. Their families (75%) and friends (72%) are the biggest influences on their purchase decisions. If you provide poor service, you can be sure that you’ll be called out for it in indelible digital ink.

Aesthetics are crucial: 92% take an app or website’s design into consideration before submitting personal information.

In terms of tone, they like irreverence—44% respond well to humor, followed by informative content at 30%.

Don’t assume you know them; it’s guaranteed to backfire. As Jeff Martin of Tribal Brands says: “Young people need to be asked what matters, not told what matters.”

Embrace technology. For inspiration look to stalwarts such as Kaiser-Permanente, who in 2016 saw more patients online than in person, or relative newcomer Oscar Health who have made engaging, high-technology, patient-centric care the foundation of their business.

What are the best formats?

Interestingly, millennials, Gen Xers, and baby boomers prefer to receive content in the same formats, ranking in order: videos and images, blogs, comments and eBooks. All list whitepapers as their least favorite medium.

This generation is much maligned, but they are powerful, innovative and savvy. If you want to reach them, you must listen to them and respond; respect their needs and adapt. If you crack the code, they may just surprise you by not only becoming valued customers, but also by spreading the word about your organization, too.

About the Author

Maria Perrin

Maria Perrin is Chief Growth Officer for HMS, where she is responsible for the company’s corporate strategy, marketing, government relations, business development, and oversight of the company’s more than 500 contracts with government and commercial healthcare organizations. She has transformed HMS’ brand and furthered its industry impact through numerous thought leadership and innovation initiatives. Maria rejoined HMS in 2019, after co-founding a successful consulting practice that launched dozens of health tech startups and tech companies in emerging sectors. During her first tenure at HMS, as Chief Marketing Officer and EVP over government and commercial markets from 2008 – 2013, HMS revenue grew fivefold and the company successfully entered the federal market, doubled the volume of state contracts, and expanded services to commercial payers. Prior to HMS, Maria was Senior Vice President, Sales, Marketing, and Business Development for Performant Financial Corp. where she led Performant’s entry into the healthcare market and other sectors. Maria has held financial and operational leadership roles for BestFoods, Nissan and other Fortune 100 companies. She has a BA in Economics from UCLA and an MBA from the University of Miami.

Follow on Twitter Follow on Linkedin More Content by Maria Perrin
Previous Article
Best Practices for Reducing Provider Abrasion in Payment Accuracy
Best Practices for Reducing Provider Abrasion in Payment Accuracy

See more
Applying Patient-Centered Care Principles in the Payer Market
Applying Patient-Centered Care Principles in the Payer Market