Attracting Millennials as Radiology Patients

Attracting Millennials as Radiology Patients

July 19, 2016

According to Pew Research, millennials have surpassed the preceding generation to become the largest workforce bloc in the country. At the same time, many of them are aging out of being covered by their parents’ insurance plans. These two factors combined mean that radiology professionals are seeing a large influx of young people who are making their own health decisions for the first time. While these individuals share many similarities with other patients, there are also some key differences that medical imaging professionals should be aware of, particularly when designing outreach campaigns and seeking to maximize engagement.

What is Important to Millennials?
Cloud software giant Salesforce recently completed a study examining the factors that matter most to millennials when it comes to healthcare. It found that, by and large, technological investment was correlated with patient trust. Millennials are apt to believe that the more diligently a practice attends to its technological systems, such as medical billing software, the higher the quality of provided care will be. Digital Radiography, as a discipline, is in a good position to leverage its innate tech savvy nature for this generation. Thus, it behooves any clinic looking to make inroads with a younger generation to pay close attention to its digital offerings. Salesforce’s data supported this assertion:

  • Three-fifths of those surveyed were interested in telehealth options that reduced in-office visits
  • Nearly 75 percent wanted medical billing software that made booking appointments and paying for services seamless
  • About 73 percent were interested in their physicians using mobile devices during appointments

Another important factor for millennials is convenience. Tasks that once took hours can be done in a matter of minutes, and people are now apt to value speed of service over all other factors, including price. While getting good value remains important for people of all generations, millennials tend to want healthcare that fits into their lifestyles. A study conducted by Nuance Technology found that they are willing to pay extra for this service, which is particularly interesting considering that younger people tend to have lower incomes and be less advanced in their careers.

Nuance’s research also uncovered another important facet of this generation: It is interconnected. The increasing influence of social media means that people now have larger networks than ever before, and they are leveraging them to get information on the healthcare choices they should make. Of those questioned, 70 percent indicated that they would choose a provider based on recommendations from people they knew or online sources.

Why are Reviews Important?
In the past, a single negative interaction with a patient ended there. That person might not have returned, but the overall impact on the practice was relatively minor. At most, the patient might tell a few friends or family members, but as long as the incident was isolated, negative repercussions were minor and easy-to-manage.

Today, however, people are increasingly likely to go to review sites, such as Yelp or Google Local, or to share negative experiences on social sites, like Twitter or Facebook. These anecdotes can get shared widely within a matter of hours, and can in turn affect the purchase decisions of an entire network of people. It is therefore important to ensure that there is an open line of dialog between radiologist and patient. The last thing a clinic needs is to believe that people have left satisfied with the level of care they have received, only to then learn that they have shared a bad experience to their social networks.

How to Attract and Retain Millennial Patients
In reporting on the Salesforce survey, Healthcare IT Consultant described the potential for clinics.

“While this is an exciting time for providers, as they have the opportunity to match an eager populace with new digital health tools, it should also serve as a wake-up call that they need to strengthen relationships with their millennial patients or risk losing them to more modern, competitive health systems.”

Luckily, there are a wide range of technologies that are perfectly designed to meet rising patient demands. A generation so closely linked with apps is a natural fit for patient portals, which allow people to take better control of their own health care, and access a wide range of information about their own treatment. These systems can also be used to connect with radiologists and physicians, refill prescriptions and book follow-up appointments seamlessly. All of these features improve engagement, and increase the likelihood of positive word of mouth.

As millennials become a larger portion of the people who are receiving care, the importance of understanding their needs as patients increases. A firm grasp on the unique nuances of treating this population is an important part of the long-term viability of any medical provider.

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