Changing the Conversation about Millennials and Healthcare

Posted by Gabrielle Ferrara from Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide — North America on August 14, 2017

He texted, she Snapchatted – the new he said, she said

Millennials – they’re everywhere, stealing everyone’s jobs while simultaneously never looking up from their phones and not taking any personal responsibility for anything, ever. That’s what you think when you hear any mention of this generation, right? I thought so. As a Millennial myself, I’m not here to defend my generation, because to be quite honest, some of those assumptions are partially true.

Who are they? Today’s and tomorrow’s healthcare consumer and caregiver

Millennials are currently the largest generation in America, topping out at almost 80 million tech-obsessed, entitled, and self-absorbed humans running around. Millennials are those born roughly between the years of 1980 and 2000 (give or take a few years, depending on who you ask). They are the patients of today, and tomorrow, as well as representing one-quarter of all caregivers. It has been estimated that by the year 2033, working-age Americans (Millennials) will support more people over 64 than under 18.

It’s like rain on your wedding day – Their irony in conflicting attitudes and behaviors

They love to travel but hate to spend money; they want to be healthy but don’t consider paying for healthcare to be a priority. They can’t live without their phones, but they also worry about how their phones might be negatively impacting their health. They come into the doctor’s office with their own WebMD diagnosis, but still need to be convinced by the doctor to pursue treatment. Millennials are living, breathing, epitomes of irony (cue that song by Alanis Morissette) and they can sometimes seem to be another species entirely. However, they are surprisingly not another species, and like all other humans, they require healthcare, too.  

The trick lies in how to cater to the habits and attitudes of Millennials to provide them with the best care possible.

First things first – Get to know Millennials

From the get-go, it’s crucial that anyone working with Millennials as their target audience really gets to KNOW Millennials – and not just the negative stereotypes that are floating around. Get to know what makes them tick, how they feel about their health and the world around them. Get to know how they perceive themselves and compare that to how they are often portrayed by other generations.

From abs to acai bowls – Holistic view of health

Then try to understand that they have a holistic view of health; from abs to acai bowls, Millennials are drawn to every new health trend that is out there. They see health as more than just the absence of disease, and consider mental health and spiritual health to be contributing factors to overall well-being. Incidentally, however, Millennials are not significantly healthier than previous generations, despite the kale smoothies and hot yoga. Another example of their lives of irony.

Changing the conversation about tech – Use it to your advantage

The rise of social media and tech-dependency gets a bad rap sometimes, but it isn’t necessarily the silent killer that Grandma Ethel seems to think it is as she wags her finger and tells you to “get off that damn phone.” In fact, social media and tech-wearables can be extremely beneficial for health and wellness purposes, particularly for Millennials. These resources can allow this generation to easily find a doctor that is the best fit for them, allow them to have an active role in their healthcare treatment, and have control over their day-to-day health and wellness. It is important to not be “tech-shy”; take advantage of all the resources that are, quite literally, at our fingertips. Encourage Millennials to use the apps and the wearables if it will benefit their health and help manage their conditions. Also encourage this generation to do their own research if they wish to do so, as this will allow them to have confident, educated conversations with doctors while maintaining their sense of autonomy. In return, it is important that the doctor’s office staff themselves are well versed in both the patient demographic and all the newest, emerging treatment approaches.

They do it all, so they need it all

It’s true, Millennials are changing the world day by day, in more ways than we even realize.  They are constantly growing up, starting careers, having children, and becoming caretakers.  They are acutely aware of the world around them, despite the misconception that they are too tech-obsessed to notice anything outside the digital world. They are changing the conversation of health and wellness, and it is crucial that the healthcare world works to adapt into the evolving world of the everyday Millennial.