Healthcare preferences vary by age

Younger generations have different preferences when it comes to healthcare, with many rejecting some of the traditional aspects of care, according to a recent consumer survey from Accenture. These changing attitudes will help shape the future of healthcare as younger people age and have higher care needs.

Overall, younger generations, including the Millennials and Gen Z, are more dissatisfied with traditional care aspects than Gen Xers, Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation.

Younger consumers are less likely to have a primary care physician compared to older generations. Across age groups, 85 percent of the silent generation, 84 percent of baby boomers, 76 percent of Gen Xers, 67 percent of millennials and 55 percent of Gen Z have a PCP.

More Gen Z and Millennial respondents also said they wanted to have a PCP but have not found one to meet their needs. Gen Z is the most likely generation to seek out wellness practices beyond Western medicine, such as yoga and acupuncture.

Across all age groups, consumers are looking for more convenient care options, with insurance coverage being a primary driver of care choices. Nearly 40 percent of consumers make decisions based on whether their insurance is accepted; 24 percent said low cost; 23 percent said convenient location; and 16 percent said a reputation for superior care was a top factor in their care choice.

Consumers want to do more digitally with respect to their healthcare, as well. More consumers will choose medical providers based on their digital capabilities:

  • 75 percent of consumers in 2019 request prescription refills digitally
  • 70 percent want to receive reminders through email or text about their appointments
  • 69 percent want to communicate with their provider through secure email
  • 68 percent want to book, change or cancel appointments online
  • 53 percent want to use remote or telemonitoring for their own health indicators
  • 49 percent want to communicate with their provider through video conferencing

These digital desires vary slightly across generations, with Millennials, Gen X and Gen Z more interested in many of these capabilities. These younger consumers are also much more likely to choose medical providers with digital capabilities.

The preferences are helping give way to non-traditional services, which are gaining ground. Nearly one-third (29 percent) of U.S. respondents in the survey said they’ve used some form of virtual care––up from 21 percent in 2017. More consumers are also using walk-in or retail clinics, with 47 percent of respondents using one. Nearly 60 percent of consumers are also using outpatient or day surgery hospitals, and 18 percent use on-demand healthcare services.

The rising interest in digital health is good news for providers working to keep costs down, as these services tend to be cheaper and can help prevent more serious health events. Patients with complex conditions are also more interested in virtual care, including routine therapy, addiction treatment and more.

With preferences shifting, healthcare providers should continue to adjust their services to cater to new generations.