Gen Health Care Trends to Come

I love the health care industry. That said, I realize that most of my fellow Millennials don’t have a health care Google alert and would rather consult Dr. Google than drive to the doctor's office.

I completely understand having little patience for discussing/muddling through information on the health care reform. Maybe my affection stems from growing up in a health-care-positive family. Grandma was a nurse, mom is a massage therapist and dula, and dad continues to have a successful career in Health Care IT (though he’s retired twice, #BabyBoomer). Personally, I worked in HR for a hospital, was a “tuition paid” click away from attending chiropractic school, and continue to vocalize my pride in being one of Grey’s Anatomy’s original fans who still watch the show. (Irrelevance of last point noted.)

Luckily, I can pair my passion for health with my other passion—the generations topic. At BridgeWorks, I am the resident generations and health care junkie, and it’s time to start spreading the love. From “the exchange” to the swiftly changing patient-physician relationship to the aging population of Boomers, there is no shortage of topics to cover.

#1 - I have a doctor AND a chiropractor, naturopath, acupuncturist, and Ayurvedic nurse.
I’m not an expert on how Western and Eastern medicines can work together, but the reality is that there is an expectation that these two approaches will collaborate more in the future. 38% of Americans have already tried a combined approach. Technology continues to expose the benefits of alternative medicines, and Millennials are first in line to try creative solutions. In the near future, we can expect Millennials to actively seek practitioners who think beyond the traditional Western approach and expect insurance to cover it.

#2 - Why can’t we all just get along?
By 2020 nearly 50% of nurses will reach retirement age and many organizations are not feeling prepared for the transition. In the world of D&I, it is crucial to have generational diversity on the floor. Unfortunately, too often, young high-potential nurses struggle to get their foot in the door. And if they’re lucky to get a position, different communication and working styles can shake things up and make things difficult to manage for everyone involved. How can we navigate some of these generational differences among staff while ensuring all focus goes to patients first?

#3 - Ouch, I hurt. Immediate relief, please!
We live in a “now” world. Because of technology, every generation has a sense of urgency when it comes to finding answers and solutions. Unfortunately, medicine doesn’t usually move at the same pace. Millennials are the first generation to approach adulthood with this expectation, and some providers are taking note. Cleveland Clinic and Virtuwell are already creating programs that, if well-marketed, mean serious success with the Millennial cohort.

#4 - Hello, Dr. Google.
We’ve all done it. We feel a little under the weather, see a weird mole on our hand, pull up WebMD, and find the 35 potential causes. Before long, we’re down a rabbit hole of “maybe this is more serious than I thought, and it sounds like what my neighbor had… I should really tell my doctor about this immediately before things get worse.” Dr. Google—the most/least trusted expert in medicine—will only continue to influence, and seriously frustrate, conversations between patients and practitioners. So, how can we navigate these conversations from a generational perspective?

#5 - Raging against aging, but still aging.
Boomers are redefining retirement and everything about what it means to age. Insurers, hospitals and even some long-term-care homes are changing how they care for patients and speak with families. Boomers will have different expectations in these environments, and the ones who understand them will stay ahead.

#6 - Insurance innovation.
Just as Millennials started signing up for benefits at their first jobs (yay!), health insurance went through a whirlwind of change. Fueled by “the exchange,” every generation started experiencing a transparency that they had never experienced. Now, the various opinions on this transparency and health care reform are blasted to everyone’s feed 24/7 whether welcomed or not. For Millennials, this is the only health insurance world we’ve ever known—one of frustration, confusion, and political bipartisanship. With that brings a whole new set of expectations of our insurer relationship; we expect them to, well, get us. The health insurance industry is ripe for disruption and some companies are gleefully getting a head (or dare I say health?) start.