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How millennials are driving free market health care improvements

In a Friday, May 6, 2016 photo, LSU medical student Felicia Venable, left, examines a patient as fellow students and medical residents observe during daily rounds at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, La. Louisiana’s deep, persistent budget troubles are endangering the future of medical training programs. Proposed cuts to hospitals could damage the stream of new doctors for a generation, in a state that has chronic shortages of health care workers and some of the worst health care outcomes in the nation. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

(Gerald Herbert via AP)

The high expectations of youth, nurtured by the era of the smartphone, could drive health care to become more responsive to patient demands.

“The focus on living to be well, combined with an emphasis on cost consciousness and a thirst for convenience, could drastically recast the health care systems in towns big and small,” Holly Fletcher wrote for The Tennessean.

“Millennials also define health differently than Gen Xers and boomers, according to a 2013 Aetna survey, which showed the younger generation was more apt to call eating right and exercise as being healthy,” Fletcher wrote. “Older Americans described healthy as ‘not falling sick.'”
“I think we have just gotten so used to the way health care works that we haven’t been pushing for the change like the millennials,”David Pickett, a managing parter at PwC, told Fletcher. “I think (other generations) want the same things — there’s some complacency.”
Just as millennials drive change and cultural trends, their expectation to have information and on-demand products could change how the health care system functions. Technological improvement will need to keep pace with generational shifts in expectations. The convenience of Amazon and Uber, for instance, have made millennials less forgiving when services are slow, expensive, and unsatisfactory.
Daniel Martinez, 26, compared his experience as a restaurant assistant manager in Reno to the health care system. Martinez spoke to the Reno Gazette Journal’s Jason Hidalgo about if a restaurant was run like the American health care system.
“Oh God, it would fall apart. It would be like, ‘You want pasta? Too bad, I don’t care what food you want, all I care about is making you not hungry,'” he said.
He discussed millennial expectations, as they are often defined as digital natives with unlimited information at their fingertips.
“We’re the instant gratification generation,” Martinez said. “I don’t want to wait two months for a delivery on a pair of shoes.”
Efficiency and customer satisfaction are both essential factors in running a successful business, and millennials expectations these services is no exception to the health care industry.
“I think millennials are going to give the health care industry more impetus to really improve the customer service part of what they do,” Kathy Hemstead, director of insurance coverage at the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, told Hidalgo.
Along with their customer service demands comes a trend unlike any generation before them: millennials opt out of scheduling doctor appointments, as they find it to be a waste of time.
“A lot of young adults feel they have absolutely no time to go to the doctor,” Dr. Karen Soren, director of adolescent medicine at New York Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, told the International Business Times. “Young adults don’t have that sense of job security within their employment settings. And they feel healthcare is relatively expendable.”
Millennials will continue to push their policies on older generations until compromises are reached. Instead of the government determining the kind of health care an individual receives, study’s suggest millennials desire a free market system.
Putting those policies in place could be the answer to pleasing customers and keeping patients happy.

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