Here Come the Millennials: Hospital Design That Speaks To Young Caregivers
In Part 1 of this series, I discussed the unique characteristics of the Millennial generation, followed in Part 2 by imagining the Apple-like experience that might be their ideal outpatient care encounter. But what happens when the Millennial becomes a caregiver and healthcare decision-maker for hospitalized family members?
This generation has been described as more generationally interdependent than previous ones. So as boomer parents age, we may see Millennial offspring engaged in their care. After all, many experienced “helicopter parenting” thanks to hovering parents and may plan to return the favor or apply the same practices to how they raise their own children.
While the boomer generation could be satisfied to wait for a doctor’s guidance, their children will likely have researched hospitals, treatment approaches, and physician performance online. They may have explored concierge medicine options like Uber-inspired physician house call apps Pager and Medicast, with the hope of keeping family at home.
And when the healthcare encounter is over, you can bet they’ll share their experience—good or bad—with their social network.
Imagine you’re an older hospital inpatient and your Millennial child is along for the ride. If you’re having surgery, your child who values transparency may expect to know what’s happening, in-real-time, every step of the way. Patient tracking monitors in family waiting spaces accommodate this, but mobile solutions that allow family to visit the gift shop or dining areas better address their inclination to multi-task.
The typical hospital cafeteria may not cut it for Millennials, either, as about one-half of them consider themselves “foodies” and many are fitness-oriented and concerned about sustainability. Fast, healthy, and responsibly sourced dining options will likely appeal to them, as might access to walking paths or a treadmill workstation.
This generation as a whole is also rather frugal. Amenities and design solutions should be value-conscious, a move that will align well with healthcare organizations’ own focus on reducing the overall cost of care.
In the patient room, participation of family is a welcome and a crucial component of care, as evidenced by the square footage now afforded to the family zone. The younger generation’s expectations for design will surely include seamless technology integration for on-demand entertainment, education, and communication with physicians and caregivers. Furniture that accommodates charging of ubiquitous mobile devices is also a given.
Millennials may advocate for patients to have greater control of their environment (e.g., lighting, temperature, window treatments) from the bed. Given that today’s kids are digital natives and even older generations now own tablets (37 percent of 50-64-year-olds and 25 percent of those 65+), an overbed table-based interactive screen seems like an inevitable development.
The hospital environment might also maximize opportunities to educate the entire family throughout the patient stay. This calls for comfortable, multifunctional consultation spaces that encourage communication—all with the potential for a level of engagement that yields positive patient outcomes.
How do Millennials as healthcare staffers inspire a new workplace? Find out in the next installment.