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How Millennials Make Healthcare Decisions

I’m a Millennial, but that’s generally something I try to keep under wraps. Most studies draw embarrassing conclusions about my generation’s aversion to “adulting” and our seeming inability to put down our phones. And apparently we’re drinking all the wine. But after conducting research on how Millennials make healthcare decisions, some faith in my peers has been restored.

In a nutshell, we crave convenience, conduct a lot of research, and are increasingly cost-conscious of healthcare services.

Online reviews

According to a poll conducted by PNC Healthcare, 50% of Millennials use online reviews such as Yelp or Healthgrades when shopping for a healthcare provider. Similarly, when I first moved to Charlotte, I searched for an OB/GYN using the “Find a doctor” tool on my health insurance website. Ultimately, I chose the office that was part of a larger healthcare network I had seen on billboards throughout the city. Millennials are used to having information at their fingertips. That means that if they can’t get a recommendation from a friend or family member, they’ll rely on strangers on the Internet to guide their decisions.

Primary care vs clinics

When it comes to primary care, the same study found that only 61% of Millennials visit a primary care physician, versus 85% of seniors and 80% of baby boomers. It turns out that 34% of Millennials prefer to visit retail clinics, and 25% prefer to visit acute care clinics. I, too, went to an urgent care center this past winter when I came down with a nasty flu because I thought it would be faster and easier. (It wasn’t.)

To find my primary care physician, I asked my OB/GYN if she knew of any offices in their network that were accepting new patients. She gave me the number of an office right in the same building, and I took her recommendation because, frankly, it was convenient. My peers are on the same page: a study conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of American Well found that 74% of Millennials expressed interest in telehealth. This would remove the location barrier altogether.

Online scheduling

A survey from Salesforce and Harris Poll found that 71% of Millennials would like the ability to schedule healthcare appointments via mobile app, and I wholeheartedly agree. I secured a new dentist completely over email, and it was a huge time saver. Most people are at work during physician office hours, and no one wants to whisper in their cubicle about any ailments or health issues they’re experiencing. If your practice doesn’t have a mobile app, an online appointment request form works just as well. Prospective patients can fill them out when they have time (most likely in the evening or early morning) and then if needed, the office can call during the day to confirm.

Comparison shopping

The survey from PNC Healthcare found that 50% of Millennials checked online information about their insurance options during their last enrollment period, versus reading printed materials or speaking with a company representative. It also found that 41% of Millennials are inclined to request and receive estimates before undergoing treatment, and 54% of Millennials reported delaying or avoiding treatment due to costs.

While I can’t say I’ve put off treatment to save money, I absolutely researched different types of healthcare plans to determine which one made the most sense for my personal situation. I also compared prices of three different dentists and created a chart to figure out which would cost the most up-front, and which would save me the most money in the long run. Healthcare services are expensive, and Millennials want to make sure they’re getting the best value for that HSA nest egg.