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Ashley PoynterDec 5, 20195 min read

Generation g(Apps): primary care vs. technology

Updated: Jun 24

Healthcare has undergone vast changes over the past decade. For one, a recent study by Blue Cross Blue Shield Association reveals that just 68% of millennials have a primary care doctor. In contrast, nearly 91% of people that fall into Generation X have a primary care doctor. One conclusion is to say that millennials do not care about their health; however, that seems not to be the case.

So where’s the disconnect? This is an important question considering that having a relationship with a primary care doctor and having access to preventative care is essential to good outcomes and long-term health.

A guide to millennial health care

As a generation, millennials emphasize certain aspects of health care more than other generations. For one, they prefer digital channels, where possible. They also prefer to remain in control of their own health care, often believing that they are more apt to find the answers they seek than primary care doctors. They also value shoppers when it comes to health care; they pay attention to costs and will shift their behavior to accommodate their financial needs. They also believe that health care should be holistic, focusing not just on treating sickness but on taking care of one’s mind and body to prevent illness and improve overall health.

A bias toward digital

The bottom line is that millennials are looking for more digital options to healthcare. About 92% of millennials own smartphones and more than 50% own tablets, according to the Pew Research center. Millennials are also logged into social media; 82% are on Facebook, roughly 50% are on Instagram and about half use Snapchat. It’s not unusual to see posts on these sites about healthy recipes, the importance of mental health care, or information about the latest fitness trends. This generation also turns to Google and WebMD to self-diagnose anything from headaches to rashes and more.

Self-directed care

In some ways, health care has adapted to this “self-care” trend. Urgent care has become a popular “workaround” for millennials to address health needs while bypassing primary care physicians. A JAMA study shows that urgent care clinic visits increased 119% between 2008 and 2015. Millennials are also skipping primary care doctor referrals and opting into self-referral insurance plans that enable them to make an appointment with a specialist. A report shows that millennials are 33% more likely than any other generation to self-refer to a specialist.

Price-sensitivity impacts care

Millennials pay more attention to the costs associated with health care than other generations. One study reported that millennials were the most likely generation to report that they researched health costs online, researched whether certain care is covered by insurance, and spoke about treatment costs with their doctor. Another poll by PNC discovered that millennials are also more likely than older patients to ask for a price estimate upfront and half said they would either postpone or forego health care due to costs.

Holistic care rules

Millennials have a much more holistic view of health care, meaning it’s about much more than just seeking to treat illness. Millennials are very focused on the role that exercise and nutrition play in staying healthy in addition to treating infections and diseases. Fitness and mental health are also components that are important to millennials, who are more likely to join wellness programs than baby boomers.

Why a shift to Direct Primary Care (DPC) makes sense

The Direct Primary Care (DPC) model puts patients at the center of healthcare. Rather than competing with insane patient quotes mandated by insurance companies, doctors are free to spend quality time with patients. They are also incentivized to provide the highest level of care and keep illness at bay. Doctors’ interests and patients’ interests become aligned: optimal care to treat and prevent illness.

With reprieve from insurance companies hovering over their backs, primary care doctors are also free to incorporate more features that are millennial-friendly. Things like:

  • Mobile apps: An app that enables patients to make appointments, track visits, get test results, refill prescriptions and receive follow-up care can appeal to a millennial audience.
  • Text reminders: Patients can make or confirm appointments via text message or SMS.
  • Telemedicine: Telemedicine can be a great way to reach patients who are apprehensive about or otherwise unable to make in person appointments.
  • Social media: Doctors can provide general health information and practice updates on the social media channels where their millennial patients are spending time. It’s a good way to build trust with that audience and grow organic relationships.

How Decent does DPC

With Decent, the DPC’s flat fee is included in your monthly premium — so you don’t need to pay twice — and the plan provides access to high quality and affordable specialty care options for anything that can’t be handled in the primary care setting.

We believe that the doctor-patient relationship should sit at the center of healthcare. Decent’s Pathfinder and Trailblazer plans are built around this belief. This means that you enjoy personalized care with your primary care doctor as often as you like with $0 co-pay or out-of-pocket costs. Same or next-day appointments and telemedicine (video calls) are available, along with 24/7 phone, texting, and email support for your health. Interested? Get your free quote today.