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Younger Patients Prefer Non-Traditional Healthcare Delivery Models

As times change, so do preferences in healthcare delivery. According to a new survey, in the U.S., expectations for convenience, affordability and quality are becoming redefined according to generations, and this includes a transition toward more non-traditional care models, including retail clinics, virtual care, and other digital engagement tools. Overall, the Accenture 2019 Digital Health Consumer Survey found that younger individuals are not satisfied with the status quo in healthcare and consumers of all generations are more willing to try non-traditional services. In addition, non-traditional healthcare services are growing in popularity and use.

The survey was conducted online across 7 countries with 7,993 consumers, to assess views on traditional and non-traditional healthcare delivery. The population was divided according to their age group, which was defined as: baby boomers (defined as ages 55 to 73 in 2019), millennials (ages 22 to 38 in 2019), and generation Z patients (ages 18 to 21 in 2019).

What Did The Survey Find?

For starters, gen Z consumers and millennials were less likely to have a primary care physician (PCP), compared to gen X and baby boomers: 55% of gen Z patients and 67% of millennials reported having a PCP, as compared to 84% of baby boomers. Some respondents in the younger generations said that while they would like to have a PCP, they hadn’t found one that meets their preferences for affordability and convenience. But instead of going the traditional route, about 41% of millennials are using retail clinics instead of primary care and 39% virtual care, but the rate of virtual care use has gone up during the past two years among all patients (21% in 2017 vs 29% in 2019).

Some who have not yet used non-traditional care delivery services stated that they were willing to do so, and many appear to be selecting routine non-traditional healthcare for (vs traditional) for cold/virus treatment (65% vs. 48%), flu shots (62% vs. 54%) and routine vital sign checks (59% vs. 54%).

Gen Z is the most likely generation to seek out wellness practices (e.g. yoga, acupuncture) beyond Western medicine, although alternative treatment is becoming more popular across all age groups.

One reason that millennial and gen Z patients are moving more towards non-traditional healthcare models is dissatisfaction with the status quo. Wait times was one complaint among 16% of millennial patients, while 13% had issues with location or channel of care, 12% with effectiveness of care, and 10% with the medication that was prescribed. In contrast, far fewer baby boomer patients reported dissatisfaction with any of these issues; 6%, 4%, 4%, and 5%.

What Does This Mean For Healthcare Providers?

A strong preference was expressed for digital capabilities. More than half of patients surveyed expect to have digital capabilities with their providers. More than two thirds (70%) were more likely to choose a provider that offers reminders for follow-up care via email or text, vs 57% in 2016, and 53% were more likely to use a provider who offered remote or telemonitoring devices, compared to 39% in 2016. The younger consumers were more likely than other generations to select providers who offered digital capabilities.

Millennials as compared to baby boomers preferred doctors with digital prescription refill (42% vs 30%), and online appointment scheduling and management is also preferable (40% vs 19%).

“As more patients take control of their own healthcare, provider organizations must offer meaningful choices that fulfill the needs of all generational groups,” Kaveh Safavi, MD, JD, head of Accenture’s global Health practice, said in a statement. “Providers and payers who stay one step ahead of the shifts and deliver what patients are looking for will be the ones to earn loyalty, navigate disruption and be strongly positioned as the future unfolds.”

Last updated on 9/30/19.

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