7 ways to attract Millennial patients to your practice

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Millennials are all grown up and making their numbers known. Comprised of those born between 1981 and 1996,1 they became the largest generation in the labor force in 2016 — 35 percent compared to 33 percent for Gen Xers.2 And in 2019, they’re expected to surpass Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living adult generation.3

The youngest Millennials are inching closer to their mid-20s — when they can no longer remain on their parents’ health insurance plan — and the oldest are nearing 40 — an age where health challenges generally begin to increase. But no matter their age, all Millennials expect healthcare providers to adjust their medical marketing plans to appeal specifically to them.

The whitepaper "7 ways to attract Millennial patients to your practice" shares medical marketing ideas to capture the critical Millennial market. Use it to guide your healthcare marketing efforts, so you can increase your share of young new patients.

How to attract Millennial patients to your healthcare practice

1. Upgrade your website

A good website is critical to online medical marketing. About two in five patients (43.6 percent) use a practice website to form an opinion of a doctor, dentist, or another healthcare provider. And 38.4 percent of patients say a practice’s website ultimately contributes to whether they select a particular provider.4 To appeal to Millennial patients, your practice website must — at the minimum —  load quickly and feature a responsive design.

New patients have no patience when it comes to website speed.

47 percent of people expect a website page to load in 2 seconds or less ...

… and one in four people will abandon a page that takes longer than 4 seconds to load.5 Some 47 percent of people expect a website page to load in 2 seconds or less, and one in four people will abandon a page that takes longer than 4 seconds to load. Use Google PageSpeed Insights to see how quickly your practice website is loading on desktop and mobile screens. It’s in need of an upgrade if the load time is below the standard Millennial patients expect.

A whopping 96 percent of people ages 18-29 and 92 percent of people ages 30-49 own a smartphone. For about one in five 18-29-year olds, a smartphone is their only means of online access at home.6 Therefore, to appeal to Millennial patients, a practice website needs to look great on mobile screens as well as desktop computers. Responsive websites fit this bill because they detect a visitor’s screen size and adjust accordingly.

2. Create a widespread online presence

Millennials look online for just about everything, including health services.

54 percent of 18-34-year-olds search for a local business like a healthcare practice every day, and 81 percent do so every week.7

A practice website alone is not enough to draw new patients like these to your healthcare practice. If you want to succeed in practice marketing, you need to be where your potential patients already are.  Extend your online reach beyond your domain by first claiming your practice and provider profiles on important healthcare and local directories.

Next, optimize your profiles with complete business information — name, address, phone number, hours — a detailed biography, and high-quality photographs. For healthcare directories, also include information about your education, certifications, accepted insurances, hospital affiliations, and awards.

About half of patients use the information on websites like directories to form an opinion of healthcare providers,8 making this a necessary step to attract Millennial patients when marketing your healthcare practice.

3. Build a positive online reputation

The role online reputation plays in healthcare marketing and attracting new patients cannot be overstated. About 70 percent of people say a positive online reputation is very or extremely important when choosing a healthcare provider.9 Millennials, in particular, rely on other people’s words when forming their opinions.

Only 5 percent of people ages 18-34 never read online reviews for businesses; half always read online reviews and an additional 29 percent regularly read reviews. What’s more…

91 percent of people ages 18-34 trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.10

To appeal to Millennials, your medical marketing strategy must include encouraging current patients to share their experiences with your practice online. You can do this in-person immediately following appointments, or you can request their feedback after they’ve left the practice by sending patient satisfaction surveys.

Worried your efforts will be for naught? Don’t be. When asked for feedback, 22 percent of patients are more likely to submit a review, and 60.8 percent of patients who’ve posted a care-related review have never posted a negative one.11

4. Promptly reply to questions and patient reviews

Millennials have questions about their health, and they expect their providers to promptly supply answers. Make this a medical marketing opportunity.

58 percent of Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X say responsiveness to follow-up questions via email or phone outside of the appointment is critically or very important to their overall satisfaction.12

One way young patients help determine the responsiveness of providers is through review replies. Nearly all 18-34-year-olds (96 percent) read business owners’ responses to reviews.13 To stay on top of incoming reviews, you must actively monitor the most popular online sources for patient reviews: Google, WebMD, Yelp, Healthgrades, and Facebook, respectively.14 If this isn’t possible, consider purchasing reputation management software, which will alert you to new feedback and aggregate all of your patient reviews into one location.

Millennials will also check your social media and even your Google knowledge panel — the panel that appears on the right-hand side of desktop search results — to gauge your responsiveness. Similar to patient reviews, you should regularly monitor these healthcare marketing assets for questions or feedback about your practice.

5. Maintain an active social media presence

It should come as no surprise that Millennials are highly active on social media.

Of 18-29-year olds, 91 percent use YouTube, 79 percent use Facebook, and 67 use Instagram.

Their profiles aren’t dormant either: 51 percent of all YouTube users, 74 percent of all Facebook users, and 63 percent of all Instagram users access the sites at least once per day.15

To reach new patients with your medical marketing, you must meet them where they are. In this day and age, Millennials are on social media. 

Assuming that a social media presence is already part of your online medical marketing, focus your efforts on growing your Millennial following by sharing quality content, utilizing hashtags, and engaging with other users.

The types of posts that encourage the most social media engagement are those that entertain, inspire, or teach.16 This might include research summaries, blog posts, and media articles. You can also regularly share photos and videos of your office space and your staff to help humanize your practice. Include relevant hashtags on all of your posts so new patients can find your content.

In addition to sharing content, you should also prioritize engagement. Do this by following relevant users — i.e. healthcare providers in your geographical area, other providers in your specialty, medical organizations and associations, healthcare publications — and by liking, commenting on, or sharing their content. Also, reply to users when they comment on your content or otherwise interact with you.

6. Update your front office tech

Even the best, most strategic medical marketing might not persuade tech-savvy Millennials to sign up as new patients if your practice uses antiquated front office tech. Young patients demand a better tech experience from their healthcare providers. Meet this demand by adopting a patient portal, offering online appointment booking, and sending appointment reminders and confirmations.

Some 78.8 percent of patients have used a patient portal. Most frequently, patient portals are used to access test results, view a personal health record, and fill out forms before an appointment.17 Though patient portals have not quite delivered on their promise to provide improved patient engagement and outcomes, experts expect portals to become more patient-centered and user-friendly within the coming decade.18 Despite their shortcomings, patient portals are important to Millennials: 59 percent of Gen Y patients say they would switch doctors for one with better online access.19 This makes them a powerful tool in your medical marketing arsenal.

Online appointment booking and appointment reminders are also “musts” for Millennials. Roughly eight in 10 patients say they would like to schedule their own appointment via a secure web service.20 Young patients are even willing to move practices for the convenience …

58 percent of Millennials say they are willing to switch providers for the ability to book online, compared to just 18 percent of Baby Boomers.21

As for appointment reminders, more than half of patients (57 percent) expect their providers to send an automated text, voice, or email reminder urging them to schedule appointments.22

7. Offer greater insight into healthcare costs

Seventy-seven percent of all patients say healthcare costs are unpredictable.23 Millennials — a generation burdened by mountains of student debt and high underemployment — can be particularly sensitive to unexpectedly high medical bills. Four in 10 Millennials now say they request cost estimates before undergoing treatment. And …

... 54 percent of Millennials have delayed or avoided treatment due to cost.24

The healthcare industry at large is not transparent about the cost of care. And it’s often impossible for healthcare providers to accurately estimate the out-of-pocket costs for each patient because costs vary by a number of factors. (Of patients who received upfront cost information, 34 percent said their final bill was higher than the estimate.25) But most patients (80 percent) want their doctors to help them manage financial responsibilities by clearly communicating what insurance covers versus what they owe.26

To appease cost-sensitive Millennials, make financial information part of your medical marketing strategy. Do what you can to provide cost estimates before they schedule appointments. For example, consider adding an approximate price range of your services on your website. If financially feasible, consider offering a payment plan for expensive out-of-pocket services. Highlight this offering on your website, online profiles, and social media.

Millennials should comprise a sizeable portion of healthcare providers’ patient base in most specialties. If this doesn’t describe your practice, you must bolster medical marketing efforts geared toward young people.

If you don’t have the time or expertise necessary to follow through on the healthcare marketing ideas proffered in this whitepaper, know that there are other options. Medical marketing software company PatientPop, for example, will build you a fast-loading responsive website, grow your online presence, help increase your number of patient reviews, and more. To learn more about PatientPop, visit patientpop.com.

1. Defining generations: Where Millennials end and Generation Z begins, Pew Research Center
2.“Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force,” Pew Research Center
3. “Millennials projected to overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation,” Pew Research Center
4. The patient perspective 2019: online reputation, PatientPop
5. How Loading Time Affects Your Bottom Line, Kissmetrics
6. Mobile Fact Sheet, Pew Research Center
7. Local Consumer Review Survey 2018, BrightLocal
8. The patient perspective 2019: online reputation, PatientPop
9. The patient perspective 2019: online reputation, PatientPop
10. Local Consumer Review Survey 2018, BrightLocal
11. The patient perspective 2019: online reputation, PatientPop
12. Accenture 2019 Digital Health Consumer Survey, U.S. Results
13. Local Consumer Review Survey 2018, BrightLocal
14. The patient perspective 2019: online reputation, PatientPop
15. “Share of U.S. adults using social media, including Facebook, is mostly unchanged since 2018,” Pew Research Center
16. Sprout Social Index, Edition XV: Empower and Elevate
17. Maximizing Patient Access and Scheduling, MGMA
18. “The future of patient portals,” Medical Economics
19. Health Care Check-Up Survey, 2nd Edition, Intuit Health
20. Health Care Check-Up Survey, 2nd Edition, Intuit Health
21. 2018 Patient Access Journey Report, Kyruus
22. 10 Ways to Fulfill Patients’ Communication Wish List, West
23. Consumer survey, PNC Healthcare, conducted by Shapiro+Raj
24. Consumer survey, PNC Healthcare, conducted by Shapiro+Raj
25. Consumer survey, PNC Healthcare, conducted by Shapiro+Raj
26. 10 Ways to Fulfill Patients’ Communication Wish List, West

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7 ways to attract Millennial patients to your practice