March 31, 2017
By: Jean-Pierre Stephan

Demographic disruption is about to change the playing field, and the players

Disruption impacts nearly every market today; the question in healthcare today is not if but when it hits us, too.

Unlike retail, it won’t come in the form of a distinct entity. Healthcare disruption will come in literally demographic proportions, via millennials.

Millennials are now the largest living generation in the United States, surpassing baby boomers. They are well on their way toward establishing similar hegemony in healthcare. Millennials differ from prior generations in critical ways; healthcare organizations must master these distinctions to stay relevant.

Take choice factors. In choosing healthcare plans, Accenture research reveals 37 percent of millennials highly weigh customer service, versus only 8 percent of baby boomers. Conversely, price is far less of a determinant for millennials (48 percent placing high value there) than boomers (79 percent).

This alone has seismic repercussions for healthcare. We all know customer experience is seriously lagging in our market. The health insurers who get experience right for millennials will enjoy an inside track with these influential consumers.

Much is made of the fact millennials are a digital generation. That they assuredly are. But even digitally intense millennials say they want to pick up a phone and talk to someone about their healthcare. If that someone isn’t knowledgeable enough, the millennial customer is likely to go elsewhere.

For millennials, unmet expectations in this market space negatively impact brand loyalty to a degree not seen with prior generations. Accenture research shows 38 percent of millennials rank as brand detractors, versus just 20 percent who are counted as promoters. Millennials are only half as likely to recommend their health plan as are baby boomers.

Millennials also increasingly populate the supply-side of the healthcare equation, as practitioners and administrators. They have different employment expectations. They don’t want to spend a half-hour on an EMR entry. They measure engagement 140 characters at a time. Keeping such employees happy will be critical to bottom lines.

We know boomers are not only capable of adapting to next-gen service innovations, but eager for them. We have seen the rise of “silver surfers,” seniors who routinely use mobile apps and other tech-savvy upgrades. Changing healthcare’s service model will only deepen their existing engagement.

What service innovation will change is market leadership. Brand loyalty is not something millennials are known for. Expecting them to follow established healthcare organizations simply because they are known quantities is unwise. Creating service experiences that not only satisfy their healthcare needs but do so on their terms will build brand loyalty.

Our healthcare challenges today are multi-faceted and complex. Millennials represent a multi-faceted movement to addressing these challenges. Millennials have less interest in navigating healthcare’s subtleties than prior generations. They will continue to have higher service expectations of the healthcare system. Prioritizing millennials’ healthcare needs is going to make all the difference in winning the future.

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