Nuance, pioneer of the highest functioning speech software worldwide, conducted a 3,000 person survey about Millennial generation patients and the way they shop for their healthcare. It found that most Millennials will turn to family and friends or go online to obtain healthcare information about providers and products. With today's digital and social media age, this comes as no surprise, and is an important message for medical practices to hear loud and clear.
Who are the Millennials?
The Millennials, also referred to as Generation Y or the Millennial Generation, are the demographic group that follows Generation X. Although specific dates have not yet been given for the beginning and end of the generation, most commentators and researchers use the birth years that range between the 1980s through the early 2000s to define Millennials. The Millennials now exceed the Baby Boomers as being the largest living generation at over 83 million this year.
We have changed in the way we find, consume, and share information, and the Millennial healthcare consumer is heading online to help with their decision making. According to the survey, this younger generation still has similar healthcare concerns as the Baby Boomers, which are finding a doctor who will take out enough time to consult with them about their healthcare and trusting the recommendations of others to find doctors.
However, the study revealed that 70 percent of Millennials did indeed choose their doctors based off of the recommendations of their friends and family, where only around 40 percent of people ages 65 and older did. Also, if unhappy with their care, about 60 percent of Millennials would share their concerns through word of mouth to their friends, whereas over half of the baby boomers go straight to the doctor to voice their concerns.
Some more interesting facts from the survey are the ways in which the two generations find their healthcare information. Over 54 percent of Millennials will turn to the Internet to find information on their health before consulting with a doctor. This is higher than the 39 percent average of all other patients globally.
Kay Zimmermann, who is a 25 year old patient, says that when she needs a new doctor; she first checks with her insurance provider and then turns to the Internet to scout out reviews. She said she ruled out many doctors based off of the comments she read online. Zimmermann said she ruled out one physician in particular that she was considering initially because the online commenter stated he or she felt rushed and was being treated like a paycheck.
Going online and browsing through social media sites for reviews on movies, products, and restaurants is commonplace for most Millennials. Using the Internet to now find healthcare providers is just a natural add on. Similar to consumer brands which now use social sites to interact with their consumers, providers will now have to focus more on what is being said online about them and perhaps a little medical marketing as well.
According to Nuance Communication's national medical director, Tony Oliva, MD, patients are now more than ever using the Internet to look up symptoms and healthcare information, therefore, they will likely be shopping for doctors and communicating their complaints and criticism this way as well.