More on Patient Engagement

Baby Boomers switch doctors at rate of 35 percent over past two years

When paired with estimates that boomers account for two to three times more healthcare spend than that of millennials, the financial risk is high.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Twenty percent of boomer patients are somewhat likely to change physicians in the next few years, following findings that 35 percent have already switched in the last two years, according to results of a new Solutionreach survey.

When paired with Morgan Stanley estimates that boomers account for two to three times more healthcare spend than that of millennials, the financial risk for practices is significant.

The study, which examines patient-provider communication dynamics across generations, shows that all generations, from boomers to millennials, want more convenient and effective communication options. Currently, 20 percent of boomers, 44 percent of Generation Xers, and 42 percent of millennials are likely to switch practices unless they get it.

[Also: Providers focusing more on attracting, retaining millennial consumers]

Patients are feeling less connected to their doctors once they leave their offices, according to the study. Providers may lose patients, and associated revenue, if they can't meet modern-day expectations, like text messaging and online communication, especially as patients take more control of their own healthcare. Practice logistics, like wait times, office and staff interactions, communication and difficulties in making appointments are prompting patients to change providers.

"The Solutionreach survey shows that practice leaders and physicians need to better tailor how they communicate with all patients," said Josh Weiner, chief operating officer of Solutionreach, in a statement. "The good news is that across generations, patients want to have more meaningful, convenient and efficient experiences with their doctors, evidenced by over half of boomers, 60-plus percent of Gen X and 70-plus percent of millennials wanting online, email and text communication options."

As the largest current-day consumers of healthcare, boomer survey respondents expressed a desire for various technology conveniences much like younger generations. Boomers, it appears, are open to new ways of communicating for improved experience.

[Also: Generational divides influence doctor-patient relationships, patient engagement, study says]

The boomer desire for more convenient communication is echoed by the younger generations. In fact, over 70 percent of Gen Xers and 87 percent of millennials would prefer texts for things like appointment reminders and treatment follow-up. This ripple effect will grow as these generations increase their use of healthcare, especially as millennials currently represent about 25 percent of the population and are slated to pass boomers as the largest U.S. generation, the study showed.

"Connecting doctors and their patients in more convenient and effective ways is essential to better patient care and healthier practices," said Jim Higgins, chief executive officer of Solutionreach, in a statement. "Convenient communication isn't just a millennial expectation, but one that's important to older generations, too. Practices that change how they communicate with patients will be better equipped to protect and grow their practice in the future."

Twitter: @JELagasse