Millennials, the New Force in Healthcare

shutterstock_293642405There are 92 million Millennials in America and they all have one thing in common: they are digitally empowered. Eighty-five percent of these 20 and 30 somethings owns and uses Smartphones to chat, text and search for things they want.

Millennials have replaced Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation. They are the first truly digital generation. Their priorities and expectations about life, jobs, marriage, and even health care, are totally different from previous generations. Millennials are reshaping the way America consumes healthcare services and owners and providers of urgent care need to understand them.

Millennials are less about commitment—they typically don’t marry until they’re 30—and more about access, the faster the better. Armed with Smartphones, they rely on transportation on demand (Uber), vacations on demand (AirBNB), music on demand (iTunes), and in a growing number of cases, health care on demand. Millennials are not satisfied with traditional models of care that require waiting weeks or months for a doctor’s appointment. If they need care, they want it now.

Which is a boon for urgent care centers. Expansion in both the urgent care and convenience care sectors reflects the increasing reliance on, and preference for, consumer-centric healthcare on demand. The Urgent Care Association of America (UCAOA) reports there are now about 7,100 urgent care centers across the country, with roughly 600 new centers opening each year. The Convenience Care Association, which represents retail-based clinics such as CVS Minute Clinics and Target Clinics, reports that such clinics have grown from a fractional presence in 2000 to more than 2,000 clinics in 2015.

While urgent care centers existed when Millennials were still in diapers, this recent growth is very likely due to the digitally empowered coming of age. With urgent care, Millennials don’t need appointments and can walk-in if they choose. Urgent care is there when convenient to Millennials, on weekends and evenings. Wait times are less than hospital emergency departments (ED) and urgent care visits are also a whole lot cheaper.

This last point is near and dear to Millennials. As a group, they have less money to spend because of lower paying jobs or college loan debt. They have used Smartphones to reshape retail: researching deals, comparing prices and posting reviews. Now, as become parents and larger consumers of healthcare services, they are applying that power to reshape healthcare decision making. Where can I find the best deal? What’s convenient for me? Let me share my experience online.

Seamless Medical has a question for urgent care owners, providers and managers: Are you ready? If you’re not sure, ask yourself the following:

  • Is my urgent care center or multi-location urgent care business readily accessible on the web? (Because that’s where Millennials will go to find you.)
  • Is my website—along will key information such as address, hours and phone number—presented in a mobile friendly way? (It must be easy for Millennials and others to read on a Smartphone.)
  • Can healthcare consumers see wait times at my location(s) and make informed decisions on where to go and get the healthcare on demand they want? (Remember, they don’t want to wait.)
  • Can healthcare consumers pre-register for appointments on their Smartphones? (A big plus if they can.)
  • Once at my location, does the digital experience continue, as Millennials prefer, during check-in, while waiting, paying for care, and post visit?

Never forget this generation was weaned on the Internet, digital devices, and the social and practical connectivity technology affords. They will like you better—really—if your urgent care center operates in their (digital) world. They will also share their opinions of you on social sites as well as Yelp and others. According to the Association of National Advertisers, 34 percent of Millennials say they like a brand more if the brand uses social and digital media.

Your head may be spinning at this point and you may be longing for the days of Baby Boomers who simply walked through your doors. Then again, you might see the Millennial generation as an incredible opportunity to grow your urgent care business and differentiate in an increasingly crowded market.

Urgent Care Now is a growth-oriented company that operates three urgent care center locations in New Jersey and three more planned to open in 2016. Dr. John Kulin, CEO of Urgent Care Now, is using the Seamless Patient Platform, a Smartphone and tablet-enabled digital patient engagement platform, to give healthcare consumers enhanced Internet access to Urgent Care Now, to deliver a more efficient, patient-focused experience, and ultimately to build the company’s business and brand loyalty.

Says Kulin, “We’re using digital patient engagement technology to meet Millennials on their turf. Our solution is end-to-end and allows consumers to use Smartphones to find us, check wait times and schedule appointments. It’s powerful because we’re giving Millennials exactly what they want: immediate access.”

Urgent Care Now continues the Seamless experience in their centers, using it as a powerful differentiator. Patients never see paper: registration, insurance verification and payment are all done on a tablet. Digital forms are in English and Spanish – and soon in Mandarin Chinese and Vietnamese – creating another level of comfort. In the future, Kulin plans to use the Seamless patient engagement platform to keep the connectivity with consumers going post visit, sending promotional messages, special offers, and surveys via text and email.

Millennials are the force to be reckoned with in today’s urgent care market. What’s exciting is with a patient engagement platform such as Seamless, you can attract Millennials and gain new levels of profitability, efficiency and brand loyalty.

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