The Pew Research Center officially defined millennials as people born between 1981 and 1996. And although baby boomers are often considered the “largest generation” in number, millennials actually outnumber the boomers by 7.7 million.
More than any other generation millennials and the way they communicate and interact have been shaped by technology, especially by the expansion of the internet. Unlike generations before, millennials had access to new technologies, computers and the internet right from the start.
This way of growing up in a world technologically developing at high speed dramatically impacted their lifestyle, and especially their health care expectations. Many millennials approach health care — either as employees or consumers — with different expectations and skill sets than previous generations.
Recent research conducted indicates millennials could be the game-changing consumer for health care marketing as we know it, in part because millennial expectations and behaviors don’t align with traditional models of healthcare delivery.
Based on their experience, health care marketers believe that millennials consider popular social channels (91%) to be the most important marketing channel, followed by mobile tablets and apps (82%), searches (82%), and texting (80%).
More than half of all millennials are quick to do in-depth research when symptoms occur and want multi-channel access to all their health care related business. They are certainly digital-first, but when it comes to health care, they’re actually omnichannel-first. Before even meeting with a health care professional, 54% of millennials have consulted as many as seven information sources for purposes of self-diagnosis from blogs to medical message boards, ratings and reviews and more.
Where does HIM fit?
Providers and payers have been slow to adopt technology, especially when it comes to point of care and patient engagement. Millennials, meanwhile, prefer to use technology before making a phone call or an office visit. They are twice as likely as any other generation to act on health advice they find online, including on social media, according to the Healthcare Finance Administration (HFA). Millennials also value speed – that’s probably why 34 percent of them prefer retail clinics and 24 percent prefer acute care clinics, according to the HFA.
Is health information technology the solution? Despite considerable potential, health information technology will not reduce health care disparities if the technology remains out of reach to safety net providers and the patients they serve.
Some studies have shown reduced availability of electronic health records for providers caring for underserved populations. Other studies have demonstrated that racial and ethnic minorities are less likely to engage actively in the use of specific health information technology tools such as personal health records or patient portals.
Privacy and Security of sensitive patient data is a huge challenge. Patients’ health data needs to be protected, including location and medical conditions based on their purchase history.
And there are concerns about digital privacy. After Facebook’s latest breaches, what are they doing with our data? Not to mention the ways in which ubiquitous technology like search engines on a smartphone in the hands of a stranger can compromise our privacy in our everyday lives.
Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies could soon be having an impact on hospitals. AI-based virtual assistants are evolving quickly, and more and more effort is being put into making them emotionally intelligent – able to pick up on subtle cues in speech, inflection or gesture to assess a person’s mood and feelings.
The good news: HIM experts know how to handle all this!
Interoperability (the ability for systems to communicate) plays an important role if healthcare wants to keep in alignment with millennial demands for quick and easy access to their health care.
With the increase of personal information exchanged over the internet comes risk associated with sharing information. HIM experts are well aware of the fact that cybersecurity must be state-of-the-art and one step ahead criminals.
Patient engagement through patient portals, access to telemedicine, online scheduling, and communication with providers needs to be the new focus.
And regardless of size or location, a revenue cycle operates the same everywhere. It has to be maintained by professionals that understand the dynamics. Efficient ‘back end’ processes will ensure the health and accessibility of the ‘front end’.
HIM professional play a critical role in health care organizations. They are dedicated to the management of patient information and healthcare data – does it matter if it’s on paper or digital? HIM experts understand the dynamics associated with quality care, affordability, rules, regulations, guidelines, implementations…whether they are caring for baby boomers or the babies of the millennials, it’s all about helping preserve and protect the health of a person.
Regardless what millennials’ health care expectations are – PCG’s experienced HIM professionals are ready to meet them.