5 Things to Know About Millennial Patients

5 Things to Know About Millennial Patients

The millennial generation is 83.1 million strong according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau report. They are 24 to 39 years old, starting families, choosing primary care physicians and pediatricians. They are health conscious, digitally savvy, elusive—and your core health care marketing target. They are also more likely than any other patient you have to walk out if they aren’t getting what they want from you.

Our latest Hailey Sault research, Why Patients Change: 2017 reveals that 36 percent of millennials often look for health care options other than what their primary care doctor recommends and 35 percent have gone outside their preferred local health system for special treatments.

Because millennials are playing a greater role than any generation before them in determining how, when and where they receive care, the need to understand them cannot be overstated.

The millennial mindset: 5 key research findings

Together with Frank N. Magid Associates, Hailey Sault surveyed 1,100 consumers across the United States who self-identified as health care decision makers in their household. Our goal was to gain a deeper understanding of each generation and what causes them to change providers—32% percent of our respondents were millennials and here’s what they told us about themselves:

#1. Millennials prioritize convenience.

They are more likely to value short wait times and a simple/fast check-in process.

  • 32% of the millennials we surveyed would use whichever health system provided the timeliest access to its services compared to 19% of Gen Xers and 19% of Baby Boomers.
  • Millennials are more likely to believe they can seek care outside their insurance network; 39% feel they can go to any health system, hospital or physicians’ clinic of their choosing.

#2. Millennials value cost transparency.

Perhaps because many of them still carry unprecedented student debt and are experiencing some of the highest deductible health care plans, they are more likely than any other generation to seek cost-effective care and treatments.

  • 62% of millennials believe health care is more expensive than it was last year.
  • 70% would switch to a provider with more reasonable costs.
  • 65% would switch if the cost of health care was more aligned with their expectations.

#3. Millennials trust their doctor, but don’t believe their doctor genuinely cares about them.

Millennials have a high degree of trust when it comes to attitudes about their health care provider.

  • Our research found that 63% trust their doctor.
  • 60% said that their doctor often explains things in a way they can understand.

However, only 49% thought that their doctor genuinely cared about them. When asked what qualities they believe indicated caring—

  • 50% wanted their doctor to listen to their needs and input when considering their health care options.
  • 45% wanted their doctor to clearly answer and take the necessary time to answer their questions—64% said they would switch if they felt a doctor would spend more time with them.
  • 43% wanted their doctor to explain their medical condition and be empathetic at the same time.

#4. Millennials define health differently.

Millennials don’t define health as simply the absence of disease. They view health more holistically with mental health, fitness, longevity and healthy lifestyles being essential.

  • 35% of millennials want their local health care provider to help them be healthier every day.
  • When asked if their local health care provider currently provided information and resources about every day health, 51% said, yes.
  • Millennials were however much more likely than any generation to trust sources like WebMD, friends and family, health magazines, their Fitbit and even Nike when it came to providing a daily source for health and fitness information.

#5. Millennials are leading the charge in an increasingly connected world.

Although they appear to grab onto and abandon media at the speed of light, our research revealed the following insights:

  • Millennials are multi-channeled—even though they seem to be a digital-first generation, they are actually open to several traditional channels.
  • They consume “media experiences,” and strategies for connecting with them must reach across and incorporate multiple channels.
  • They view their phone as an extension of themselves, they prefer a laptop to a desktop, and a lot of what they consume is streamed.

We asked millennials who had actually switched providers to tell us why. This is exactly what they told us:   

  • “Quality of service.”
  • “Better rates when it came to co-pays.”
  • “Convenience.”
  • “Hassle-free appointments.”
  • “I didn’t like the doctor, I thought there were better ones out there.”
  • “Timeliness of service, shorter wait times.”
  • “It met my requirements for lower cost, better service and faster response.”

The millennial generation is more demanding than any other generation. They are more cost conscious and service oriented, they are looking for a doctor to connect with who genuinely cares about them, they want help from you to stay healthy and they are more likely than any other generation to go elsewhere if they aren’t getting what they need from you. Let us help you begin to connect with them, gain their trust and start establishing their long-term loyalty.

Where Health Care Brands Are Headed

Where Health Care Brands Are Headed

If you’re in the business of health care marketing and strategy, you can do all the right things and still lose. You can work from your health system’s strategic plan. You can focus on your hospital’s key priorities. You can nail your KPIs and business metrics.

And still come up short.

Because the entire health care landscape is changing. Fast. Every day there’s a new headline about a mega-merger. Traditionally non-health-care brands like Amazon are poised to disrupt the way we buy pharmaceuticals. And the rapid fire policy changes in D.C. impact every facet of health care brands.

To be sure, there will be winners and losers. Your brand’s future comes down to recognizing the patterns of change and responding accordingly.

We’re living in a time of 0 to 1 changes in the health care landscape. Meaning, we’re not experiencing gradual, incremental changes. We’re seeing sharp, distinct, profound, and intense changes that impact everyone.

Here are three “0 to 1” health care shifts:

The shift from local to national health care brands

It used to be that small community hospitals competed with other local hospitals. Every region had its own flavor of health care brands and providers. Now with the mega-merger headlines about Ascension and Aetna and the speculation that Amazon will be getting into the pharmacy business, we are now in an era of national health care brands.

The shift from supply-driven to demand-driven health care

The strategy to drive new patient volume in the past had been to put an Open sign in front of the new hospital or clinic or MRI suite and patients would show up. Back in the day we called it the “Field of Dreams” strategy, based on the film’s rejoinder, “If you build it, they will come.”

Health strategy consultant Candace Quinn says that today’s health care consumerism has shifted the power from the companies and health systems over to the consumers. Now, consumers shop for the best health care quality and cost.

The shift from hospital to home

One of our clients told us that in a few years, if a patient has to come inside one of their hospitals for care, then they’ve failed the patient.

Population Health is no longer a wistful thought. Health care is transforming itself such that I could now be writing this to you in a coffee shop on a Friday afternoon while hundreds of miles away technicians are monitoring my vitals and physiological response to medication. In just a few minutes I could be looking my doctor in the eyes via my smartphone, to let her know I’m feeling great, while enjoying my Chai Tea.

No need to take off work. No need to hunt for a parking spot. No need for an expensive MRI. As the title goes of the book by brilliant thinker Eric Topol, “The patient will see you now.”


These 0 to 1 shifts point to a future that’s both exciting and terrifying for brands. A future where there are only winners and losers. And how you read these patterns—and respond—will determine what future you’re building.

In fact, the future for your brand comes down to one of two decisions:

Will your brand try to buy or try to earn its way to the top?

You can try to buy your way to market dominance. You can be the only game in town, the health system that has the contract with the biggest insurance provider. You can force your consumers to use your services because they have no other choice. And because they have no other choice you have no incentive to make their experiences exceptional, remarkable, transformative. Why bother? They have to use you. Until something happens and they have a choice. Then they will leave your brand forever.

You can try and earn your way to market dominance. Be the brand that cares the deepest. That goes the extra mile. That remembers every patient is unique. That this could be the most traumatic day of your customer’s life so you’ll give them dignity. Or you might tell your employees that the customer might be having the most stressful day ever so let’s make giving her what she needs radically easy—so much so that she’s likely to rave about you to friends.

Soon there will only be two distinct positions for health brands: commodities that customers could take or leave (and will always, inevitably, leave) or brands that hold sacred trust with the customer, in which the customer will buy whatever you sell, and return to you again and again because you make their life better, easier, healthier.

Commodity or Sacred Trust: which brand positioning is your organization moving to?

In later posts this year and in special resources (make sure to sign up below), we’ll share strategies for building sacred trust with your patients and customers.

In the meantime, here is one question to help your organization choose its future.

Who is my “Ground Zero” customer, the most important person I need to champion, support and design our entire organization around?

Brands like Amazon win because they keep their customer top of mind with every decision they make. But many health brands are different, aren’t they? Leaders of health brands often make decisions for shareholders and other audiences long before they arrive at what’s best for their Ground Zero customer.

Health brands that earn their way to the top champion their customers. And health brands that try to earn their way to the top champion other interests.

And if you’re working for and with brands that don’t put the customer first, no amount of slick marketing will disguise what your customers know to be true: that they won’t be customers for much longer.

Uber Vs. Lyft: Which Health Brand Are You?

Uber Vs. Lyft: Which Health Brand Are You?

Keeping your health brand relevant and engaging with the changing interests and expectations of today’s health audiences is a continuous process for us at Hailey Sault. 33% of all patients are looking to switch providers at any given moment, which should create urgency among hospitals and health systems to have their finger on the pulse of what patients want and need.

A strategy we often use to help our clients keep their brands innovative and exciting is to look outside the health care industry for inspiration.

For example: Uber and Lyft, the two biggest ride-sharing services.

You might not think of ridesharing brands as being relevant to healthcare, but consider this:

  • Uber and Lyft rely on independent drivers to serve customers, not unlike hospitals who have traditionally relied on independent physicians to care for patients.
  • Both ridesharing companies and health care leverage technology as differentiators, but are first and foremost service industries built on human interaction.
  • Uber owns the largest share of market and in recent years has become the verb for ridesharing (“Let’s Uber”), putting the brand in commodity territory—generic, ubiquitous—as is the fate of so many health systems that don’t differentiate.

Recently, both Lyft and Uber have made headlines.

Uber has been criticized for being brash, outspoken, using bullying tactics to get its way in cities it operates, and having a work culture that many say systematizes sexism.

On the other hand, Lyft has been recognized for its advancements in supporting charities, such as the “Round Up to Donate” campaign, which allows riders to round up their fare to the nearest dollar and donate the difference to charity. Lyft also partnered with Blue Cross Blue Shield to provide no cost rides to members for medical appointments.

At the time of this writing, Uber has the lion’s share of market share, tracking at almost 75%. Lyft is a distant second.

And that’s where the parallels to health care brands get interesting.

What if your brand is the Uber of your market?

What if your brand is the biggest, most well known? What if you seem to have infinite market share?

Is it time to coast, to rest on your laurels? Is it time to play it safe?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Your brand might be the biggest, most dominant, most used.

But is your brand the most beloved?

As I’ve shared previously, health brands today face one of two outcomes: irrelevance or sacred trust.

Which future is your brand working on?

On the flip side: do you work for a health brand that’s a distant second or third in the market? Are you constantly chasing a larger, more well-known rival brand?

Maybe you should pull a Lyft strategy.

Early on, Lyft recognized its core brand strategy was to have an exceptional experience for both drivers and passengers. (Lyft has a 75% driver satisfaction rate—much, much higher than Uber.)

The logical reason for this focus: happy drivers equal happy passengers. Happy passengers equal positive word of mouth and more rides.

The same is true of health brands. Focusing on your physicians and clinical team engagement can impact the quality of the patient experience, driving positive word of mouth and loyalty.

Here’s another smart Lyft strategy to apply.

In January of this year, some New York City taxi drivers stopped driving to protest President Trump’s original travel ban. Uber raised its fares to respond to market demand, which frustrated the market. Lyft’s 180 degree response to the travel ban proposal? A $1million pledge to the American Civil Liberties Union.

In the age of population health strategies to keep people well and out of the hospital, look for thoughtful ways to support your local community’s wellness initiatives. For example, sponsor health and wellness-based events outside of your hospital. Become known as the brand that cares for the community, in and out of the hospital exam room.

Lyft seems to be the tortoise in the ridesharing race, which serves to reinforce Uber’s position as the brash, loud and domineering hare.

Maybe your competitor can outspend you.

But can your brand be the one that people most prefer…even love?

I think that’s a race worth winning.

Let me know in the comments below your thoughts.