8 Potent Ways to Attract Younger Patients and Why You Want Them

Shelly Reese


March 07, 2018

In This Article

Strategies That Can Work for You

Unlike baby boomers and older patients, millennials are a drive-thru generation, Hippert says. In a survey of 5000 consumers, PNC found that millennials were more than twice as likely as either boomers or seniors to visit a retail clinic. They were also more likely to put off seeking care.[3]

A quarter of millennials surveyed sought care at urgent care centers compared with 14% of boomers and 11% of seniors.[3] By contrast, boomers and seniors were much more likely to visit primary care physicians in a traditional office setting—80% and 85%, respectively—than were millennials (61%).

Millennials' penchant for seeking care in retail clinics is partly to be expected. Because they move around a lot and are less likely to suffer from chronic conditions requiring ongoing care, they're less likely to have established relationships with primary care physicians. But it also has a lot to do with their expectations. They've grown up in a world of 24-hour, smartphone convenience.

Consequently, if you want to attract younger patients, experts say, you need to put convenience and technology at the center of your efforts. Here are some effective ways to do that.

Millennials Rely on Online Reviews, Social Media

Optimize your website. Millennials are going to look for you on the Web, and unless your practice website is optimized so as to claim a top berth on the first page of the Google search results, they're not going to find you, notes Javaherian. And remember: Optimization isn't a one-time commitment. "A lot of practices optimize, get good results, and stop investing. Then things fall apart, and they fall in the search engine rankings," he says.

1. Encourage online reviews. Nearly half of millennials and Gen-Xers surveyed by PNC say that they relied on online reviews the last time they searched for a healthcare provider, compared with 40% of boomers and only 28% of seniors.

2. Reach out on social media. Millennials are huge consumers of social media. They crave—and share—meaningful, informative, patient-friendly content. "Your online image is your website, your online reputation, and your social media presence," Javaherian says. "When a millennial sees that your last post was in 2014 and you have two bad reviews on Yelp, the perception is that you are not a good provider. We can debate whether that is fair or unfair, but that is the reality for the millennial patient."

3. Give them the technology they need. Patient portal adoption rates are highest among consumers aged 20-39 years, according to athenaHealth.[4] Make sure your portal offers electronic scheduling and that you can send your patients text reminders. (Most millennials hate phone calls.) If you aren't already offering e-visits, consider adding them to your routine.

Patient portal adoption rates are highest among consumers aged 20-39 years.

4. Ditch the clipboard. Welcoming a new millennial patient with a clipboard and a stack of forms is an instant turnoff. Allowing your patients to complete forms online prior to their visit and offering them a tablet-based check-in option will not only expedite registration but will also appeal to patients, Hippert says.

5. Establish a relationship with retail clinics. While retail clinics are a source of competition for physicians, they can also be a source of referrals, Hippert says. Retail clinics may offer a convenient alternative to patients for flu shots and sports physicals, but they're likely to refer patients with complex issues elsewhere.

6. Try to make your practice more transparent. Millennials are very price conscious. More than 4 out of 10 millennials surveyed by PNC say that they request estimates before undergoing treatment compared with 21% of boomers and just 18% of seniors. One of the reasons millennials like retail clinics is that they are predictable, Hippert says. "You know what you're going to pay to have your tonsils looked at. Millennials want to know what their care is going to involve. One of their complaints is, 'I never know what I really owe.'"

7. Put more focus on the experience. Millennials are more concerned with the patient experience—as opposed to simply having their health issues addressed—than boomers, according to Upali Nanda, director of research for HKS, Inc., a design and architecture firm, which surveyed healthcare consumers for its, "ClinicXX; Designing for an Ever-Changing Present," report.

"Millennials are not looking for 'fluff,'" says Nanda. "They are a discerning demographic. A superior experience for millennials is one where convenience and connectivity are a given. Access to amenities around health and wellness and being treated in a noninstitutional environment where they are the priority is important. Examples like the Apple Genius Bar, where wait time and customer service are seamlessly integrated, is a great example of what they’re after."

8. Rethink your waiting room and exam rooms. Dr Christopher Atkins Smith, a family physician with Medical Group of the Carolinas (MGC) in Five Forks, South Carolina, didn't have millennials in mind when he worked with the Clemson University School of Architecture to design the clinic. Rather, he looked to companies like Disney, Apple, and BMW to help him improve the overall customer experience and practice efficiency.


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