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Younger patients dissatisfied with healthcare's status quo, more willing to try nontraditional services

The younger the patient, the more likely they are to opt for nontraditional healthcare treatment options, such as yoga and telehealth.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Healthcare consumers are changing, and their expectations are changing, too. They want convenience, affordability and quality, and younger patients especially are dissatisfied with the status quo and more likely to adopt nontraditional healthcare, such as virtual care and retail clinics.

According to a new Accenture survey, consumers of all ages are showing more willingness to try these nontraditional services, but the trend is more pronounced among patients of younger generations.


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For instance, Gen Z and millennials are least likely to have a primary care physician, compared to Gen X, baby boomers and the silent generation; 85 percent of respondents from the silent generation, born between 1928 and 1945, report having a PCP, whereas just 55 percent of Gen Z patients, born from 1997 onward, report the same.

Gen Z is the most likely generation to seek out wellness practices beyond Western medicine, such as yoga and acupuncture.

As these younger generations age and have greater healthcare needs, they'll increasingly look for services to satisfy their expectations for effectiveness, convenience, efficiency and transparency. With millennials projected to become the largest generation by 2019, this generation holds the most power to influence future healthcare models.

Patients overall show satisfaction with new care models. When thinking about nontraditional healthcare services, many patients are "very satisfied" and "extremely satisfied" with the level of transparency, convenience, effectiveness, efficiency and cost of those services.

More than half of patients surveyed expect digital capabilities -- and these expectations increasingly influence who patients choose in a provider. For instance, in 2019, 70 percent are more likely to choose a provider that offers reminders for follow-up care via email or text, compared to 57 percent in 2016.

About 53 percent in 2019 are more likely to use a provider offering remote or telemonitoring devices, compared to 39 percent in 2016. Younger consumers are likelier than any other generation to choose medical providers who offer digital capabilities, such as easy access to test results via mobile or online and requesting prescription refills electronically.


Nontraditional care delivery services are making rapid inroads, the survey found. Roughly 29 percent of respondents say they have used some form of virtual care (an increase from 21 percent in 2017), and walk-in/retail clinics have already gone mainstream, with 47 percent utilizing them.

Many of those who have not yet used nontraditional care delivery services would be willing to do so. Patients are even skipping traditional care in favor of nontraditional options. For instance, choice of nontraditional healthcare surpasses traditional services for cold/virus treatment (65 percent vs. 48 percent), flu shots (62 percent vs. 54 percent) and checking vitals (59 percent vs. 54 percent).

Virtual care has become an appealing channel for consumers with more complex needs. One example: They would seek out routine therapy/mental health (26 percent, compared to 20 percent of other consumers), physical injury treatment (24 percent vs. 11 percent) and sexually transmitted disease screenings/treatment (23 percent vs. 11 percent).


The findings are consistent with those published in April 2018 by the 2017 Employee Benefit Research Institute/Greenwald & Associates Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey. Those results showed baby boomers are more likely than Gen Xers and millennials to have a primary care provider, with 85 percent of baby boomers saying they have a PCP, compared to 78 percent of Gen Xers and 67 percent of millennials.

Twitter: @JELagasse

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