Generational Attitudes About Healthcare

Millions of Americans are starting to become more engaged with how they manage their health and wellness, but each generation approaches medical care quite differently.  The changes to the healthcare industry are increasingly focused on addressing patients as consumers. Such a change means that providers must of course emphasize quality and work toward price transparency, but they must also seek to determine what patients desire most.  In a recent national survey by Vitals, researchers explained great differences between Baby Boomers, Generational X, and Millennials.  For the purposes of this survey, Millennials were classified as 18-34 years old, Generational X as 35-54 years old, and Baby Boomers as 55-70 years old.  Here is an overview of the survey’s findings:

35% of Millennials have a Primary Care Provider; 64% of Generational X have a PCP; 83% of Baby Boomers have a PCP.

25% of Millennial patients reported using an urgent care center when they are sick.

25% of Generational X patients reported having lost trust in a physician or healthcare organization in the last 2 years.

83% of Millennials trust physicians with their personal information; 77% of Baby Boomers do as well; only 64% of Generational X patients do.

Baby Boomers seek out a physician based on a referral, whereas Millennials look at online reviews.  Generational X patients tend to use a combination of these two approaches.

Millennials tend to trust their physician and follow the medical advice provided, whereas only 50% of Baby Boomers do.  Generational X patients are quite the skeptics, believing that physicians “pretend to know” when in reality the physician is not sure.  Additionally, Generational X’ers are inclined to wonder “if docs really know what they’re doing.”  Consequently, Baby Boomers are open and honest with their physicians and quite agreeable to a team approach to medical care, whereas Generational X patients hold back information from their providers.  Millennials are quite open, but (as with other facets of their daily lives) they will often challenge a physician’s diagnosis.

Vitals also references a study from JAMA Internal Medicine, noting

“Baby Boomers have higher rates of chronic disease, more disability and lower self-rated health than members of the previous generation at the same age.”

This research supports what I often tell clients as we engage in strategic growth initiatives.  To grow your healthcare practice, the group cannot stereotype all patients, but rather must thoroughly understand the unique differences of the particular patient demographics that they serve.  This, combined with understanding your market, can help to differentiate your practice and set it on a path of continued future success.


Contact ABISA for healthcare consultancy support or speaking engagements.

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