Move over, baby boomers — millennials are quickly becoming the top consumers of healthcare information. Born between 1980 and 2000, these estimated 78 million Americans are digital natives who turn to Google before they turn to a physician and are quick to switch doctors or hospitals after one negative experience. Millennials are rapidly becoming a force in the healthcare landscape, and the best way to reach this new and empowered generation is to know how they shop for and approach healthcare.
Branding matters. Millennials tend to shop for and show preference for certain healthcare brands. They are heavily influenced by great advertising, reputation and patient experience. Healthcare marketers must keep in mind all of the channels through which millennials seek information: online searches, ratings-and-reviews sites, social media and word-of-mouth referrals.
Young and healthy. Millennials are currently between the ages of 15 and 35 and are relatively low utilizers of inpatient and outpatient services. Healthcare providers will most likely see millennials seeking out primary care, urgent care and OB/GYNs. To make your marketing message more effective, target millennials when they are close to the care decision through digital, TV and in-office channels.
Make it digital. As digital natives, millennials are influential as tech consumers and are likely to use their smartphones to search for healthcare resources; having a mobile-optimized site is crucial to digital visibility. Millennials are also high utilizers of health apps and interactive Web communities. Having a comprehensive, creative digital plan that delivers lightning-quick consumer interactions will keep your organization relevant for this generation.
Information-obsessed. This generation collects as much data as possible before making any healthcare decision. While hospital and clinic websites might be millennials’ first stop, they are no longer enough, as millennials turn to information shared by their peers and those with similar experiences. Managing online reputations through peer-review sites (Vitals, Healthgrades, ZocDoc) is more important than ever as millennials’ decisions rely heavily on these ratings and testimonials. Monitoring online discussion forums, social media pages and blogs is crucial to understanding millennials’ perceptions and experiences with the healthcare system.
Given their group size and spending influence, millennials’ impact within the healthcare industry will only continue to grow. As young adults start their own families, they will drive healthcare organizations’ business strategies. Work to understand and build relationships with this demographic now to stay ahead of the curve.