By Ebonie Johnson Cooper
A recent University of Phoenix School of Advanced Studies roundtable – titled Millennials & the New Health Economy – kicked off their discussion by asking, “Is the focus on millennials overblown?” Hosted in conjunction with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Health and Human Services, the roundtable examined the relationship between the millennial generation and key trends in the new health economy. As a fellow millennial, I was thrilled to serve as a panelist and share my insights. Below are key takeaways from the event discussion.
Millennials Are a Generation unto Themselves
Millennials are defined as individuals born between approximately 1980 and 1994, and encompass the largest generation since the baby boomers. From advances in technology to new economic realities, this generation has inherited a much different world than that of their parents and grandparents. Panelist and Cato Institute Fellow Emily Ekins noted that 60 percent of millennials leave their jobs after three years, demonstrating a very different hierarchy of needs than that of previous generations. With shifting jobs and existing financial debt, healthcare is often a non-factor for millennials. However, when millennials do have healthcare they are twice as likely to challenge the cost of their medical care compared to that of the general population. Programs like the Affordable Care Act (ACA) seek to make healthcare mandatory yet affordable, but how can federal programs like ACA and other insurance programs market these programs to millennials? To start, be authentic.
Millennials Want Authenticity
Event panelist and HUGE Strategy Director Jon Judah noted that, “Brands know that they have to prove their authenticity when engaging millennials, otherwise they can come off as creepy and out-of-touch.” Elite Daily reports that 43 percent of millennials rank authenticity over content when consuming news. Millennials want to know that brands, and the experience expected from the brand, are what they say they are. Additionally, millennials rely on the recommendations of their peers when making decisions. When brands are looking to work with millennials on making informed and healthy choices, it’s important to be transparent, authentic and receptive to candid feedback. This insight led audience members to highlight the power of consumer-reporting apps like Yelp, Trip Advisor and AirBnB – and appropriately, telehealth apps.
Millennials and Telehealth: A Match Made in Heaven?
In a May 2015 New York Times article, Heal app developer, Dr. Renee Dua, says telehealth is “using old school techniques with new school technology.” Telehealth innovation has opened the door for healthcare-related app developers to engage younger consumers like never before. In 2014, 85 percent of millennials aged 18-24 owned mobile devices and 86 percent aged 25-34 owned a smart phone. This data represents the need for a focus on the ease of accessibility that is vital to this generation. With millennials also focusing on affordability, cost is an important factor for brands to consider. Telehealth costs can range anywhere from a flat fee of $50-$200 per home-visit to $40-$70 for webcam consultation, pricing that is very attractive to the millennial generation. Additional telehealth benefits include faster diagnosis, quicker access to prescriptions and less wait time to see a physician. With perks like speed, reliability, increased access to providers, and affordable care costs, telehealth is millennials’ dream come true!
What Does This Mean for Brands?
The roundtable ended with a question that all policymakers, corporations and non-profits alike should consider: Who do millennials trust? To that, I was happy to shout out, “We trust each other!” Millennials value our peers’ opinions, believe in brand authenticity and want access at our finger tips. For this reason, brands finding ways to get millennials the information they need quickly, reliably and affordably will continue to stand out among the competition.