Here Come The Millennials: Engaging A Generation By Design
In the first installment of this series, I discussed some of the unique attributes of Millennials that are shaping the way we design healthcare environments. Let’s now consider the role this generation plays as patients.
It’s exciting (and a bit disconcerting) to imagine how different hospitals and clinics may look in the not-too-distant future. In fact, some predict digital medicine will transform care to such a degree as to render physician visits (and therefore traditional clinics) obsolete.
The theory is that eventually, wearable or embedded sensors on our bodies will transmit health information to clinicians working in remote data surveillance centers. Given the Millennials’ reputation as early adopters of new technology, one can imagine them driving many of these advancements.
As health organizations adopt a consumer-driven orientation, successfully marketing to Millennials will require creating an experience that aligns with their lifestyle. For example the smartphone app ZocDoc allows patients to find a nearby doctor who accepts their insurance, see real-time availability, instantly book an appointment (usually within 24 hours), and fill out online forms in advance.
Contrary to popular belief, Millennials love shopping in brick and mortar retail stores, provided they’re convenient and engaging. Consider the success of Apple stores: More than 80 percent of Millennials own an iPhone, and Apple plans to open 30 new stores in 2014. Imagine if upon arrival at a “clinic” you are welcomed by a blue-shirted greeter who immediately escorts you to a private space to chat with a healthcare “genius,” either in-person or via a high-definition telehealth screen.
Once your concerns are addressed, you linger in a wellness retail space that’s organized, easily understood, and provides enriching health experiences (education, biometric screening, etc.).
There’s no “point of sale” station—transactions occur anywhere in the space using mobile technology. And there’s a community aspect to the design that encourages conversation with others and a sense of belonging.
All of these elements appeal to the Millennials’ desire for a convenient, engaging, and socially connected user experience. It supports their multitasking lifestyle and seeks to integrate wellness into their daily life. The physical design of the space is infused with elements of the healthcare organization’s brand that appeal to Millennials: social responsibility, authenticity, transparency, simplicity, personalization, value, and quality.
Applying the “Apple experience” provides a rich analogy for the optimum Millennial healthcare encounter.
In Part 3 of this series, I’ll explore the role of the Millennial as caregiver and healthcare decision-maker for children or parents, including a look at the potential impacts on the inpatient environment.