Millennials have altered how we consume healthcare. Are you prepared?

July 28, 2018

Physicians in the non-acute space are at a crossroads. They’re serving a diverse range of customers cutting across demographics that include Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and now millennials and Gen Z. Each group has its own expectations and preferences for consuming healthcare, so it’s important that physicians understand and meet those unique needs.

Physicians must also contend with rising healthcare costs, a shortage of doctors and an aging population, all of which are combining to make traditional healthcare models increasingly unsustainable. In addition, insurance is becoming unaffordable for many. This is especially true for millennials in the growing gig economy in which temporary and contract positions are commonplace.

Most non-acute facilities aren’t set up for ongoing success as demographics and healthcare delivery models change. For starters, physicians need to market to millennials and provide the services they want. This generation is tech-savvy, while most facilities are not. For example, many patients can’t book appointments online or via apps, even though millennials are demanding this.

“Physicians need to think differently. They need to view the patient as a consumer and think about how they are going to serve that consumer,” says Hilary Grittner, senior director of Strategic Accounts at Provista, a leading non-acute supply chain partner. “They also need to think about each consumer group, in particular the millennials who are very different from your Baby Boomers and Gen Xers.”


Traditional healthcare approaches are not going to address the needs of millennials. For example: 

  • Most search online for healthcare information and self-diagnose.
  • They don’t value face-to-face time with doctors.
  • They’ll readily change physicians if their needs aren’t met.
  • Physician ratings are important. 
  • A lifestyle or diet change is preferred over medication. 
  • They want to leverage technology, from online appointment booking to telehealth. 
  • Many forego insurance because it’s too expensive. 

“Millennials have more access to information than any previous generation. When Baby Boomers see a physician, they may want a second opinion from another doctor. For millennials, they’ve done research online and the physician is the second opinion,” says Luke Cavanagh, Provista marketing manager. “Some patients want medication to make them feel better. Millennials are interested in natural treatments and wellness options. This challenges physicians to have this type of information.” 

Some non-acute facilities are now partnering with health and wellness centers to provide options to patients. Meanwhile, millennials’ penchant for social media is impacting physicians.

“You might be a great doctor, but if you don’t have good bedside matter, you can expect a bad Yelp review, which can hurt the practice,” Cavanagh says.


Getting millennials into clinics requires overcoming hurdles that didn’t exist with other groups. Most millennials want providers to accommodate mobile apps to make appointments, share health data and manage preventive care. However, many facilities are behind the curve and not providing these options. 

Millennials are also the most likely age group to compare prices online for medical and dental care. “More than ever, people, especially millennials, are price shopping online. We now have the ability to go onto the internet to find the cost of an X-ray, scan, implant or whatever it may be,” Grittner explains. “If I have a cold, I can find out the cheapest option for me, per my insurance or cash based.”

With more imaging centers and walk-in clinics to choose from, customers have more options and physicians have more competition. Non-acute facilities can appeal to millennials and other customers by offering the types of services patients use in other facets of their lives. For example, many people in their 20s do not own vehicles. They use ridesharing. Physicians who work with a car service like Uber or Lyft to bring patients into the office can gain a new customer base. Providing services online may soon become mandatory if clinics want to stay in business. 

“From a physician office space, you have to move to an online platform or you’re going to be extinct,” Grittner predicts. “This frees up office overhead costs and allows nurses to focus on caring for patients rather than handling patient communications.”

“More than ever, people, especially millennials, are price shopping online. We now have the ability to go onto the internet to find the cost of an X-ray, scan, implant or whatever it may be.”


Virtual health technology such as video, mobile apps, text-based messaging, sensors and social platforms can deliver health services that are independent of time or location. This allows people to choose care on their own terms. People between ages 18 and 34 are the most likely to be interested in telehealth. 

For in-person visits, digital technologies can streamline the exam by getting patients’ information, collecting symptom data and identifying potential treatment options prior to the visit. Virtual medical assistants often guide patients through standard intake questions, such as symptoms and family medical history, and analyze the combined information with a diagnostic engine so physicians can consider clinical options before the exam. Other technologies take notes for physicians during exams so they can focus on patients. All of this can help attract millennials. 

“Technology is changing the healthcare industry and can have a very positive impact,” Grittner says. 

Common consumer devices, such as wearable sensors and biometric devices, let healthcare providers gather patient information. While members of each demographic group may have their own preferences for the type of devices they wear, facilities that can harness the data better serve patients. 

“Technology is making it easy for patients to access their data, and also for physicians,” Cavanagh says. “Physicians have never had this much access to patient data for a total approach to care.”


Millennials expect online resources and advanced healthcare technologies. To keep up, physicians must wear a business hat in additional to their stethoscopes.  

“You have to run a business in addition to providing care,” Grittner says. “You have to keep up on social media and marketing, and other aspects of a business now more than ever.” 

Cavanagh, who is a millennial, agrees. “Just like doctors keep up with continuing education and accreditation, they need to keep up with how businesses are changing,” he says. “Make sure you have someone in the office who’s staying up to date on technology and be open to implementing it. If you want to know how millennials consume information, hire one who has grown up using these technologies.”

Facilities can also stay current on trends by working with a qualified group purchasing organization (GPO). Provista, for example, works with leading suppliers who understand and offer innovative technologies that help meet each demographic group’s needs. 

“GPOs have subject matter experts who understand technology,” Cavanagh says. “The same questions that you’re asking your staff are the same questions GPOs are asking their suppliers.”

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