What Millennials Want From a Primary Care Physician, By the Numbers

Millennials or Gen Y, those born between the 1980s and 1990s, are 71 million strong in the U.S. and are expected to overtake baby boomers as the largest generation by the year 2019. As their purchasing power continues to grow, so does their influence over every industry. Healthcare is no exception.

Your 20-to-30-something patients are changing healthcare with their fresh perspective on the patient experience. By knowing what they want from you—their primary care physician—you can bridge the generational gap and deliver the standard of excellent care you’ve come to expect for yourself and your patients.

The Stats

According to a 2016 Statista report, around 77 percent of millennials in the U.S. rated their general health condition as good or excellent. The most commonly diagnosed health conditions for this generation are depression, anxiety, and obesity. These are illnesses that, if left untreated, can lead to a wide variety of more severe health issues, making it crucial that they get the care they need now.

Below are a few things research tells us they want from you - their primary care physician.

Ease of Access

Millennials have been called the “drive-thru generation.” As it comes to healthcare and any other services, they want it delivered quickly and efficiently. When choosing from their menu of care delivery options, they often leave primary care physician as their last resort, rather than their first line of defense. In fact, research suggests that a large number of millennials may not have a primary care physician at all. Instead, as many as 34 percent prefer retail clinics and 24 percent prefer urgent care clinics simply for the ease of access.

Despite the abundance of health care information they have at their fingertips, millennials still consider primary care physicians their most powerful and trusted resource when it comes to their health. So why do they avoid their doctor? You guessed it: long wait times and a general lack of convenience .  

The best way to counteract these concerns is to provide a standard of care not available at retail and urgent care clinics and added conveniences that gets them access to you quickly and efficiently. 

Online Options

Online Scheduling - If you don’t offer online booking you’re turning away patients without even realizing it.

Fifteen percent of Gen Y patients use a web portal to schedule appointments with their primary care doctors, and 35 percent use it to access current health data. One in four Americans, regardless of age, prefer online booking tools over calling the office and waiting to go through prompts before speaking to front office staff.

Online Patient Intake - Online intake forms are a must for your millennial patients, as it allows them to complete their paperwork from home or on-the-go, reducing the amount of time they have to spend in a waiting room. And the benefits of a good patient intake system move well beyond the patient perspective.

One of the largest benefits of online intake is your ability as a provider to prepare for appointments. Having the patient's insurance information ahead of time lets your practice manager or billing team verify eligibility and resolve any insurance issues that may arise prior to the visit—rather than in a packed waiting room.

Cost Transparency

With out-of-pocket costs on the rise, 41 percent of millennials say they receive cost estimates before undergoing medical treatment of any kind.

Unfortunately, 34 percent reported their final bill was higher than their estimate. This isn’t good for them or for you. In fact, the Health Research Institute (HRI) found that this generation is also more likely to challenge their healthcare bills compared to older patients.

Nineteen percent of millennials report asking for discounts on their health care, compared to the general population at only 8 percent. Not only do they want cheaper options for their care, but 22 percent report asking for more affordable medication options too.

What can you do to help meet the needs of this cost-conscious group, and ensure that you get paid?

Increase communications with patients, informing them of their financial responsibility—through secure text, email, patient portal and in person at the office. Provide estimates of their out-of-pocket expenses for various treatment options and prescriptions. This communication can no longer be left to the billing office alone. Primary care practices need to be knowledgeable of billing practices and cost-conscious options to help create treatment plans for this patient population. Be sure that your office offers mobile or online payment options to make paying bills quick and simple.

Mobile Health

If there’s one thing millennials love it’s their phones. In fact, according to Nielsen, more than 98 percent of them own a smartphone that they check an average of 69 times a day and 83 percent say they even sleep with it.

Additionally, this 2017 study by Salesforce found that patients feel it’s important their providers use web portals, live chat/instant messaging, or telehealth apps that allow two-way video conversations for health care services.

When you look at these stats it’s easy to see why millennials are requesting that primary care providers venture into the mobile health business, commonly referred to as mHealth. Mobile health is the use of mobile phones and other wireless communication devices for preventative health care services.

One great example of mobile health in action is the way front-line worker in Africa were equipped with online CDS resources through their mobile devices. On a more universal level, it has been used to fight off the flu. Most providers know what to do when presented with flu symptoms, but it’s not always necessary to see the patient in office and risk them spreading the virus. For example, with real-time access to CDS you could determine which strain of the flu a patient has and which treatment options have been the most successful at treating it. For practices, a group messaging system can also help by sending out automated reminders to get flu shots or tips on how to best avoid getting the flu.

Do What You Can

As an independent provider, you may not be able to adopt all of the facets of  mobile health or the emergence of AI in your practice. However, by providing online chats, instant messaging or online booking tools offered directly from Google searches or your website, you can easily connect with the unique needs of this generation.

Keeping up with the ever-changing health care landscape is difficult, but it’s important to find ways to incorporate technology-enabled conveniences that work for you and satisfy the demands of new generations of patients. Selecting the right EHR and other software solutions for your practice are important and can help you connect with patients of all ages.


Have you looked into adding telehealth video visits? Do you offer online patient scheduling, patient intake and multiple payment options? Contact Kareo to learn about these another other options for adding convenience to your patients' experience.   


About the Author

Melissa has been a Registered Nurse for 20 years. She has an extensive background in Nursing leadership and obtained her Master’s in Healthcare Administration in 2016...

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