Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, are the first generation to grow up with technology integrated into everything they do. Their phones always at the ready, millennials expect a direct, convenient way to receive and interact with information. They see value in digital services that make their lives simpler.
When it comes to their healthcare, 45% of millennials don’t have a primary care physician, according to a 2018 Kaiser Family Foundation poll. This group tends to get care on an episodic basis, visiting retail and urgent care clinics for illness and turning to online sources for health-related questions.
Millennials are also starting families, accounting for 82% of U.S. births in 2016 and raising the total number of first-time moms in this generation to 17 million. How should healthcare best engage this huge new population of moms? What changes are necessary to accommodate their expectations of a digital society?
The millennial woman’s relationship with healthcare undergoes a fundamental shift when she becomes pregnant. Fragmented, episodic care doesn’t work when you’re expecting. The U.S. Office of Women’s Health recommends at least 14 doctor’s visits over the course of a normal pregnancy. And regular trips to the doctor will continue after the baby is born, with scheduled pediatric well-child check-ups and the inevitable sick visits.
The most important supporting factor for women to make good health care decisions is to have a strong relationship with a provider they trust. And that relationship needs to extend beyond the walls of the doctor’s office and the hospital. New parents want and need guidance on caring for their babies. A national survey of mothers, published in the journal Pediatrics, revealed that a significant number were receiving either inconsistent, or worse, NO health advice about various infant care issues (breastfeeding, safe sleep positions, pacifier use and more) from their doctors and others. When they have a question, millennials tend to turn to the internet for advice. But with so much information on the web, much of it conflicting, new parents can easily become overwhelmed and confused.
New millennial moms are faced with the increased responsibility of making healthcare decisions that aren’t just for themselves, but now are for their entire families. The changes in behavior and healthcare consumption that come from being a new parent provide new opportunities for hospitals and providers to forge long-term relationships with expecting patients that will last through pregnancy, early childhood and beyond. The impact will be felt throughout healthcare institutions and across service lines.
Millennials are digital natives. In order to provide the education they need to achieve patient satisfaction and positive outcomes, hospitals and healthcare providers must reach them where they are—on mobile technology. And as the oldest members of the next demographic, Generation Z, move into adulthood as the first mobile-native generation, it’s even more critical that healthcare providers have the infrastructure in place to provide the digital support and education these patients need. Learn more about how digital patient engagement provides a better care experience.