Millennials are reshaping healthcare
| January 26, 2015
Global consumer collaboration consultancy Communispace recently released a report called, "Healthcare without Borders: How Millennials are Reshaping Health and Wellness," which examines millennial healthcare values and how they will impact businesses across the industry.
The report focuses on several areas of millennials' lives, including technology. Millennials are far more likely than other generations to rely on mobile and online tools to monitor and maintain their health, the report states.
For example, 35 percent of millennials use a health or fitness apps, compared to 18 percent of other generations. Meanwhile, 29 percent of millennials will go online to read reviews of physicians and hospitals compared to only 22 percent of nonmillennials — not a stark contrast, but enough of a disparity to be recognized as a movement toward this behavior that will continue with future generations.
Additionally, a quarter of millennials indicated, according to the report, that unplugging from technology is a part of their overall wellness regime while only 16 percent of nonmillennials will unplug.
The study collected feedback from more than 2,000 millennial-age consumers (ages 18 to 32). The report suggests that they have been shaped in large part because of a series of socioeconomic issues they faced, including a deep recession, burdensome student-loan debt and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
"Their generational values, shaped by many of these same events, are directly reflected in their approach to healthcare: a detachment from institutions; a propensity to gather, curate and share data; a concern with the origin and life cycle of their products; a desire to engage with, and, unplug from technology; an emphasis on work/life balance; and a focus on the present over the future," the report's authors noted.
"Those who seek to serve millennial consumers need to work within, not against, this orientation," the report noted. "Healthcare is no longer confined to the traditional channels of the hospital and the doctor's office. It's happening in a discussion with a friend over coffee, a hypochondriac's Facebook news feed, a Google search in the drugstore, an online community for Paleo dieters, a launch party for a new line of organic, cruelty-free cosmetics, a 'detox' afternoon in the middle of the work week, an abuse survivor's support group.
"It's happening 24/7, everywhere and anywhere. Even as we sleep, our wearable devices beam REM patterns up to the cloud."
According to the report, this is all leading to one thing: the rise of healthcare consumerism. Individuals are less likely to communicate with brands and through traditional channels; consumers are empowered by technology and to access information. Therefore, healthcare is no longer confined to the hospital, urgent care clinics and physicians' offices. Healthcare is happening everywhere.
As consumers, millennials are finding themselves between an elongated "care-free childhood" and becoming "responsible" adults. For example, 25 percent of the survey's respondents still get their health insurance through their parents, but less than half consider regular medical (44 percent) and dental (46 percent) checkups, vaccinations (39 percent), medication adherence (37 percent), routine self-exams (32 percent), and routine cancer screenings (23 percent) to be part of their overall health and wellness.
Also, "holistic health" millennials define their health and wellness more broadly than do older generations — nearly half (49 percent) consider maintaining a work/life balance to be part of staying healthy, ranking it higher than regular dental or physical exams or health insurance. They also are more likely than other generations to consider unplugging from technology, meditation, massage and talk therapy to be elements of staying well.
More than 25 percent say organic, natural and nontoxic products are part of maintaining their health and wellness. This means they see health as more advanced — or more complex — than simply connecting with caregivers in a traditional setting.
Fifty-six percent of millennials have visited a doctor's office in the past year compared to three-quarters (74 percent) of nonmillennials. By contrast, millennials are more likely to have utilized a range of care options, from urgent care clinics to emergency rooms to home remedies.
They are also more likely to self-diagnose (28 percent) or treat at home (36 percent) before even considering going to a doctor. Backing this claim, a quarter of respondents said they've sought medical advice from friends and family in the past year, and 53 percent consider them to be a trusted source of information.
Finally, millennials are more likely to participate in tracking activities like wearable sensors and mobile health applications. They find these tools convenient, motivating and empowering. More than 27 percent in the study used a health or fitness app and were willing and eager to share the data with employers, insurers, providers, other consumers and brands — assuming they get clear value in return — and they have demonstrated fewer concerns about privacy and security.
In contrast, millennials actually blame institutions for healthcare failings: 49 percent say the government is most responsible for problems with the healthcare system, followed by 26 percent who say health insurance companies are the most responsible. A full two-thirds of millennials (and 71 percent of nonmillennials) agree that insurers have too much power.
Overall, millennials are more likely to express mixed feelings about the Affordable Care Act's impact on themselves, the people around them and the country as a whole (34 percent of millennials vs. 26 percent of nonmillennials say it has been both good and bad for the country).
Communispace conducted the survey online of 1,507 consumers (1,004 millennials and 503 nonmillennials) during September 2014, as well as qualitative explorations with an additional 615 consumers (297 millennials, 318 nonmillennials).
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