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How Should the Healthcare Industry Engage with Millennials?

millennials-on-their-phonesMillennials — as a group, they wield considerable influence, and the healthcare industry is not immune to their impact. In fact, Millennials represent a critical component of healthcare reform. Insurers want to attract them as members. Healthcare providers want to develop patient engagement initiatives that inspire them toward healthy behaviors. Developers want to launch the next must-have mHealth app. Naturally, experts offer a variety of a strategies for connecting with this important cohort of consumers that numbers over 73 million. The question is, “Which strategy will prove most effective?”

Three Approaches to Engaging Millennial Healthcare Consumers

Some of the strategies for driving Millennial patient engagement take inspiration from the world in which Millennials came of age — a world where the Internet, social networking and technology are a way of life.

1. Appealing to the Wired Generation

According to a blog by Stewart Gandolf, CEO of Healthcare Success Strategies, a national survey conducted by inVentive Health and Harris Poll found that for Millennials, “Health is very much an ever-present personal journey of wellness fueled by food, exercise and social connections.” While Millennials consider physical health and happiness important, they worry about cost. This concern leads many Millennials to turn to the Internet or social networks for advice on health issues before calling a doctor.

The inVentive/Harris Poll report indicates that 37 percent of Millennials self-diagnose with health problems they don’t have. Clearly, to connect with these consumers and help them get appropriate care, healthcare organizations need to meet Millennials where they are most comfortable — online.

2. Bringing Together Information and Authority

A recent article in Medical Marketing & Media offers slightly different take on how Millennials view healthcare based on the same inVentive/Harris Poll study. Emphasizing Millennials’ distrust of traditional healthcare solutions, the article notes that nearly half of Millennials have tried extreme fitness programs or all-natural diets to improve their health, but they consider engaging with a physician to be “sick care.” That’s not to say that Millennials object to an authoritative healthcare voice, but they’re likely to gravitate to Dr. Oz — or some other perceived healthcare authority that they can find on the web — than make an appointment with a family doctor.

Organizations need to find ways to become part of that healthcare conversation, particularly because early engagement with Millennials is what will drive wellness in the long run. The article suggests that Millennials will appreciate “brands that can help them understand what's normal and create solutions that benefit them.”

3. Playing to Millennial Egos

Aon Hewitt, a human resources solutions company, conducted a survey of more than 2,700 employees across the country to evaluate the generational differences that people exhibit when it comes to health and wellness. The study found that more than half of Millennial employees are more motivated to care about health and wellness when messaging emphasizes the impact good — or poor — health has on an individual’s energy level and appearance.

Whether it’s due to age, inexperience or ego, Millennials put a premium on looking good, so healthcare providers and other organizations may want to drop the prevention messaging in favor of appeals to Millennials’ self-image.

For decades, retailers have strategized on how to reach out to consumers along the path to purchase. Healthcare organizations must take a similar approach, identifying the best channels, tools and messages to help Millennials travel the path to wellness so that they are comfortable with seeking intervention from a real physician rather than “Dr. Google” when necessary.

As the Communispace report that we mentioned in a previous blog notes, “Healthcare is no longer confined to the traditional channels of the hospital and the doctor’s office. It’s happening in a discussion with a friend over coffee, a hypochondriac’s Facebook newsfeed, a Google search in the drugstore, an online community for Paleo dieters.”

While Millennials share some attitudes as a group, they also have unique motivations, experiences and lifestyles that influence their behavior. Hospitals, insurers and other healthcare-related businesses must recognize that initiatives based on generalizations — even ones that are highly accurate — will still fail to reach the entire audience. By breaking down the Millennial generation into distinct psychographic segments, organizations can craft unique messages to drive higher levels of patient engagement.

PatientBond has just fielded its national study of healthcare consumers, with a significant base of Millennials. To answer the question regarding the best ways to engage Millennials, and the psychographic segments within the Millennial generation, the c2b Consumer Diagnostic looked at such things as:

  • Which of more than 60 information sources and media influence Millennials’ choice of healthcare products, hospitals and health insurance companies
  • Which of more than 60 health & fitness apps have Millennials downloaded and actively use
  • Social media habits among Millennials
  • Message receptivity and fatigue
  • …plus many more topics across channels of healthcare delivery

Insights and data from this research will be shared in coming articles, but the data will also be syndicated for client use.

Discover how psychographic segmentation helps organizations categorize Millennials into more meaningful audience groups or contact PatientBond for more information.

Psychographic Segmentation and its Practical Application in Patient Engagement and Behavior Change

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