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Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, Gen Z: healthcare expectations

By Tim Sandle     Jul 6, 2017 in Health
A new survey of the U.S. healthcare system suggests that different generations, grouped into different sociological and demographic clusters, have varying attitudes to healthcare and there are some significant differences.
To start with there are differences over the term “receiving care”. Apparently younger generations baulk at the word “receive” and it see it as outdated terminology. Whereas someone of the ‘Baby Boomer’ generation is happy with the concept of receiving healthcare, those who fall within the Gen X or Millennials bracket see healthcare services as a ‘transaction.’
These differences in opinions are very much tied to the U.S. for-profit insurance driven health system. An alternative model, such as the U.K. free-at-the-point-of-delivery taxpayer funded system might produce a difference outcome; however, the results are interesting whichever country you reside in.
The survey results come from Amy Lynch, who is a “generations researcher” and pioneer of Gen IQ. One focus of her activities is supporting leaders and companies as they overcome the dual challenges of generational shift and business disruption. The research is divided into patterns relating to different generations.
In relation to U.S. health, Amy Lynch makes the following observations, which she has supplied to Digitial Journal:
Baby Boomers
Boomers are not necessarily in the best of health, with lives affected by being too sedentary work but with too much stress; added by diets rich in sugary food. This means they have healthcare needs. So what do boomers expect from the U.S. system?
According to Amy Lynch: “Boomers mostly want healthcare that’s relational rather than transactional.” They also expect to communicate with medical professionals face-to-face and they expect technological solutions to many of their healthcare needs. Lynch uses an example of a problem knee, the Boomer will expect the knee to be fixed relatively easily.
The takeaway’s from Lynch’s research are:
1. More than other generations, Boomers want personal relationships with providers.
2. Boomers expect solutions and fixes that help them stay active and feel young.
3. Be sure your online profiles, reviews and interfaces are sharp. Boomers didn’t grow up with the Internet, but they use it.
Generation X
Gen X are most often the chief health decision makers in their families. They are also relatively demanding and they, as the market model U.S. health system dictates, readily shop for healthcare as if they were shopping for retail goods and services.
The GenX takeaways are:
1. Gen Xers expect to be allies in their care. They get 3nd opinions as a matter of course. (It's a generational tic, usually chronic.)
2. Do everything in your power to save Gen Xers time. Tell them exactly how long a visit or a treatment will take, and don't go a minute over.
3. Xers are the key decision-makers for everybody from their Silent and Boomer parents to their Gen Z kids—yet they are an often-ignored generation. Want to improve and grow your practice? These are the people to ask for advice.
Millennials (Generation Y)
Millennials, according to Lynch, do what they can to avoid visits to a medical professional and they try to eschew things like check-ups. More often they will use the Internet to find out the reason for a health issue.
The key takeaways from the research are:
1. To win Millennial patients, provide convenience and low cost.
2. Millennials have an easier relationship with authority than Gen Xers do, so Ms may be more compliant.
3. For this cohort, high-tech and high-touch are one. Options like telemed can save you time and build your Millennial client base.
Gen Z
Gen Zs tend to have their healthcare decisions made by their parents. For those a little older, there is a tendency to trust pharma and healthcare systems less. The Zs enthusiastic about wearables and customization. How this generation shapes up will be of interest.
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