A 2019 Digital Health Consumer Survey conducted by Accenture found that younger individuals, specifically Millennials and Generation Z, are either “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” with the current state of traditional healthcare. Given what we know about these generations and their push for convenience, effectiveness, and efficiency, this information is not altogether surprising. Given what we know about the projected future of modern healthcare, it’s not altogether permanent either.

What Younger Generations Expect From Modern Healthcare

Millennials and Gen Z have grown up in the digital age. Technology has been an integral part of their experiences beginning at an early age, and what many older generations would consider an unnatural tethering of human and technology is merely second nature to those born after 1981. It’s only logical, then, that these generations expect their healthcare systems to provide the same level of transparency and ease that technology offers them in other aspects of their lives.

According to Accenture, 70% of survey respondents prefer providers that offer follow-up care via email or text message. The younger generations assigned high levels of value to online or text-delivered test results, online appointment scheduling, and digital prescription refills.

Why Is This A Problem?

Traditionally, younger generations are more likely to consider alternative forms of health care. Acupuncture, chiropractic medicine, yoga, and ayurvedic medicine are all viable wellness options for many Millennials and Gen Z’ers. They are also more likely to use walk-in clinics and urgent care settings as opposed to primary care offices. These settings offer quick, in-and-out service at any time and without any red tape. Experts are concerned that this behavior could “drive up costs and fragment care, leading to greater unnecessary use of antibiotics and other types of care.”  

How Can We Fix It?

The first and most important step in optimizing traditional healthcare so that it is appealing to younger generations is to embrace digital communication. Simple measures like implementing online appointment scheduling and allowing patients to access their records and results with a secure app or online portal go a long way in creating transparency and convenience. From there, integrating tech-based capabilities like digital prescription refill requests and 24/7 “Ask A Nurse” chat functions into the communication solutions further cements the commitment to effectiveness and efficiency.

Millennials and Gen Z’ers crave interactions that improve their connection with providers. Younger generations are wary of large institutions and organizations, preferring to receive care the way many of them shop for groceries: locally and personally. Adding increased digitalization to the healthcare system helps younger patients feel like they have improved control over their own health — a feeling that is extremely important to these generations that have grown up seeking opportunities to exercise increased agency over their lives.