A generational shift in how patients view primary care providers is causing industry upheaval.
A recent story in the Washington Post reported on a healthcare trend that has primary care practitioners concerned: Millennials are increasingly turning away from primary care and toward options that provide more convenience and price transparency.
Millennials, who number about 83 million, are America’s largest generation, and to them, convenience is king. Unlike previous generations, the majority of them don’t view doctors as the best source of health information. They often don’t see the value of primary care — which means women in this group are missing out on preventive healthcare and only seeking services when they have a problem. Since primary care brings patients into your hospital or health system, focusing on encouraging millennials to make use of your primary care physicians can help drive volume.
But trying to sell the ideology that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is difficult when that ounce of prevention is much less convenient to a millennial woman’s schedule than the pound of cure that can be had at the corner drugstore’s walk-in clinic with no wait time. When you also factor in the price transparency that’s lacking at most primary care providers and readily available at more convenient options, it’s easy to see how this can look like a no-brainer to a time-strapped millennial with a sore throat.
The problem, of course, is that clinics often treat symptoms, not problems. The owner of that sore throat is more likely to be prescribed unnecessary antibiotics, and if an underlying condition is causing the issue — like chronic heartburn — it’s more likely to be missed.
So how do you reach millennial women who don’t seem to want (or know they need) your product? Three ways:
- Adjust your business model. Offer e-visits and same-day appointments, keep your practice open during evening hours, be transparent about pricing and use digital tools to communicate with patients.
- Educate your audience. Use your advertising to explain the benefits of primary care: whole-patient treatment, continuity and quality of care, referrals when bigger problems crop up, etc.
- Go back to millennial-marketing basics. According to a Harris Poll, 84 percent of millennials trust advice from family and friends over advice from a professional. They’re also “twice as likely … to take action based on health advice via social media channels or online.” The best way to reach millennials and impress on them the importance of primary care might be via their friends. Social media testimonial campaigns are an excellent tactic to meet more than one objective.
Problems are often opportunities in disguise. If you view the problem of millennials turning away from primary care as an opportunity to evolve your healthcare practice to accommodate the next generation of female healthcare shoppers, you’ll provide better treatment and connect more strongly with your patient base.