Younger generations want more convenient and transparent care and are more likely to support providers that meet these demands.
By Scott Wooldridge
Younger adults are pushing for changes to the status quo in health care, and even older consumers are willing to try non-traditional models of care, according to a new report.
The online study by Accenture surveyed 8,000 people, most of them Americans, but a substantial number of respondents were citizens of Australia, England, Finland, Norway, Singapore, and Spain. The survey aimed to assess the attitudes of consumers toward traditional and non-traditional health care service delivery.
Younger consumers are less satisfied with current models
The study found that younger consumers tend to question traditional health care models, and are much more likely to express dissatisfaction with the status quo than older consumers. In particular, Gen Z (those born in 1997 or younger) and millennials (born from 1981 to 1996) were much more likely to say they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with different elements of their health care. Older generations such as Gen X (born 1965 to 1980), Baby Boomers (1946 to 1964) and the Silent Generation (1928-1945) were more likely to be satisfied with traditional care.
For example, Gen Z expressed dissatisfaction in many areas: effectiveness of treatment, responsiveness to follow-up questions, cost and care transparency, convenience—dissatisfaction among people in this group varied from the low 20 percent range to more than 30 percent for some issues. One generation older, millennials also were more likely to express dissatisfaction, although their dissatisfaction levels were not as high. The older generations seldom had levels of dissatisfaction higher than single-digits.
Some areas had relatively strong levels of agreement: cost of treatment drew dissatisfaction responses from 15 to 24 percent for four of the age groups—only the Silent Generation segment was in single digits (6 percent) on that question. Cost transparency also had dissatisfaction ranging from 15 to 25 percent for the four younger generations. Dissatisfaction with wait times and convenience were the only areas where millennials were the top group expressing dissatisfaction, but those areas again listed relatively strong dissatisfaction among all but the oldest consumers.
Part of Gen Z’s dissatisfaction with health care delivery in general might come from the fact that only 55 percent reported that they have a primary care physician (PCP). This was the lowest level of those surveyed; 67 percent of millennials said they had a PCP, Gen Xers were at 84 percent, and the next two generations at around 85 percent.
“Some younger generations say they would like to have a PCP but have not found one that meets their preferences for affordability and convenience,” the report said. “With millennials projected to become the largest generation in 2019, this generation holds the most power to influence future health care models.”
Convenience, transparency, digital tools: The future essentials for health care
In general, the survey found that younger generations wanted more convenient and transparent care. Not surprisingly, younger patients wanted more flexibility in using digital platforms to access care, and were much more likely to choose their providers based on whether those providers made digital tools available.
In addition, interest in nontraditional care sites, such as walk-in clinics were relatively popular; the survey said 47 percent of consumers have used such clinics. And virtual care provided through online platforms is increasingly popular with patients who have complex needs, the study said. In the survey, 26 percent of respondents said they would seek out mental health treatment through virtual platforms, 24 percent said they would seek out virtual care for physical injury treatment, and 23 percent of respondents said they’d turn to virtual care for sexually transmitted disease screening and/or treatment.
The survey concluded by saying provider systems will need to stay on top of changing consumer demands. “As patients use and are satisfied with non-traditional care settings, payers and provider must adapt and consider greater use of digital capabilities, self-service options, and more convenient physical locations,” the study said.