In the United States, more than half the population is millennial or younger. Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, make up 22% of the population and are currently the largest demographic block. As brands seek to tap into the group’s growing buying power, millennials’ habits and behaviors are forcing many industries to adapt—and that includes healthcare. Effectively communicating with millennials, many of whom have historically ignored the healthcare industry and are now approaching 40, is an urgent challenge for healthcare organizations.
Whether it’s millennials’ general mistrust of the healthcare system, financial considerations or other factors, this demographic doesn’t see the value of adopting a proactive approach to healthcare. Instead of making appointments to visit a doctor’s office, millennials are more likely to go to urgent care centers or emergency rooms than their non-millennial counterparts, which suggests that they desire prompt treatment and rapid resolution to their problems. Relatively few millennials believe that getting regular dental and medical checkups, cancer screenings or immunizations is essential to leading a healthy lifestyle. This mentality is still a significant change from previous generations who were more likely to follow proven healthcare practices.
So, it’s up to healthcare brands to communicate their value more effectively to resonate with the millennial audience. Here are some ways to elevate your communication strategy to shift millennials’ approach to healthcare.
Educate first, CTA second
Most millennials are flocking to urgent care clinics due to convenience and are not aware of the long-term issues that can arise from being so reactive about their health. Urgent care clinics provide quick care, as the name suggests; however, this means patients lose out on holistic care. Most health-related problems are interconnected, and it usually takes a qualified primary care doctor to help identify unhealthy patterns.
Brands must educate millennials on the importance of maintaining a sustained relationship with a healthcare system. This means healthcare systems need to invest in a library of educational content that is easily digestible and distributed across channels, in addition to regular marketing assets. Most millennials get their content from social media and from influencers. Having a roster of influencers whose values align with your brand is another great way to educate and amplify brand preference.
Additionally, millennials tend to research brands a lot before directly engaging with one. It’s crucial to stay consistent across your communications to be authentic and clearly communicate your values.
Make your website work hard for you
In today’s world of information overload, you must streamline your website and invest in smart user experience (UX.) Key pages like the “schedule an appointment” page need to have clear and simple messaging—without being overloaded by options.
When it comes to non-specialty service lines like primary care or internal medicine, it’s important to explain what patients can expect from each type of physician, as most people are not aware of the differences. Providing helpful checklists can also help your audience discern the kind of care they need.
Greater educational resources coupled with appropriate scheduling details can be a powerful tactical tool to increase patient scheduling. Millennials will thank you for not making them open another browser window to clarify.
Make it easy for the patient
Many healthcare brands boast about how easy it is to connect with them—it’s usually done by calling a phone number or by scheduling an appointment online. However, after reaching out, most people find out that they need specific documentation to go forward with the appointment. To simplify the next steps, ensure you list out all the paperwork necessary—the kind of health insurance that is applicable, whether financial aid is available and any other potential out-of-pocket expenses—on your website so that there is full transparency. Being thoughtful and making the patient’s journey as effective as possible will ensure they stay in-network and do not skip out for a more convenient option.
Another example is when a patient finishes a consultation with a physician and gets prescribed further tests. The hospital usually connects them with labs in their network. Going one step further and giving them location options, whether near their workplace or home, is a great addition. Although creating additional on-hand marketing collateral seems like the quickest way to enhance the patient journey, we should remember that millennials are a digital-first generation. Investing in HIPAA-regulated third party software that can be integrated with the facility’s scheduling system might provide the best long-term results.
Thinking about the patient at every step (online and in-person) and making sure they receive all the information they need before they anticipate it will help you stand apart from the competition.
Know who you’re talking to
It’s difficult to have one message that is authentic to all communities; millennials can smell a marketing slogan from a mile away. Audience segmentation is a known marketing tactic that can ensure the right information goes out to right groups of potential customers. With the rise of social media, especially among millennials, audience segmentation is becoming more and more robust, as it not only includes demographics but also behavioral tendencies, online activity and more.
Building your marketing plan with various audiences in mind will result in personalized communication that appeals directly to customers. But it’s not only about what you say—where you say it matters, too. Merging personalized messaging with the right media channels will yield stronger results. Instead of traditional media placements, distribute your message across the channels where millennials are active, such as connected TV and newer social media platforms such as TikTok. Going one step further and examining your media assets’ validity via A/B testing will provide smart insights into your audience segments.
It’s no secret that the U.S. healthcare system is complicated, Millennials and younger Gen Z patients are more optimistic than Gen X about the future and are willing to power through economic and social crises in order to be the conduit for positive change. Although institutional changes may take time to identify and implement, aligning your brand strategy and messaging with a millennial mindset can provide the leverage you need.