It's no secret that millennials approach their healthcare in drastically different ways than members of the Silent Generation, baby boomers or Gen X. Technology is one of the primary reasons for this difference — along with changing social and economic factors — and it looks like Generation Z's relationship with technology will also influence how the group relates to healthcare.
Gen Z has yet to be assigned a definitive age range but it mostly refers to people born between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s, so the generation's oldest members are now in the workforce.
Convenience is King
Millennials are less likely to have primary care providers and are more likely to use apps for scheduling, viewing medical records and paying bills. They are also more receptive to telehealth visits than previous generations. Those same trends are likely to continue for Gen Z, the youngest generation to have grown up in a fully-connected world.
As the wait times for an appointment with a doctor grow longer, younger generations are more likely to use walk-in clinics or opt for urgent care centers which are more convenient. A recent Accenture survey also found that younger generations are more dissatisfied with the quality of care they receive.
Self-service and convenience play into Gen Z's interactions with doctor's offices and the industry as a whole. They look to email, texting and apps to manage their appointments or for communication with doctors.
This group is far less likely to be on a desktop computer, so mobile-friendly apps or sites that allow them to interact with providers will draw Gen Z in more. Finding ways to communicate with this younger generations (in their preferred modes) can help keep them engaged in the industry, according to a study by SolutionReach.
Generation Z and the Doctor-Patient Relationship
The people in Gen Z are often referred to as "digital natives." They barely remember a world without Google. Whereas older generations are more likely to stick with their doctor and seek out advice from their physician, younger generations are more likely to Google their health questions first.
As wearable technology continues to gain popularity, younger generations are increasingly focused on health and wellness. Many are likely to monitor their own health reports. Although Generation Z is mostly composed of teens with limited purchasing power, they have a high interest in wearables. Millennials and members of Generation Z are most likely to use a wearable device, according to a Forrester Research survey.
Millennials typically reach out to friends or online communities to ask about a particular health condition before speaking with a doctor, according to Physicians Practice. Accessibility also seems key for the younger generation. Chiropractor Matt Delgado told Physicians Practice that he's having luck with patients texting to set up appointments. Many of his patients follow him on Instagram, showing the closer relationship he has with them.
Harnessing the Power of Information
For physicians serving members of Generation Z, the challenge with the doctor-patient relationship will be making sure the medical information they're getting outside of a doctor's visit is accurate. The prevalence of inaccurate medical information online means that patients need a source they can trust. The growing trend of treating patients as partners in their care has shown success — and it seems younger generations are largely looking to continue that practice.
Although they aren't the groups using the most healthcare services, millennials and members of Gen Z are showing what the health industry needs to do to provide the best care. These groups want care that's as convenient as the technology with which they've grown up.