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Improving Healthcare Compliance by Understanding Generational Patient Expectations

Michael C. Howe, for HealthLeaders Media, February 25, 2010

As the younger generations (Gen Xers and Millennials) increase their personal and family usage of the healthcare system, their service expectations are being addressed by innovations in healthcare delivery like retail health (e.g., CVS/MinuteClinic). Gen Xers want to be educated on how to better care for their families. They value their independence and do not respond well to heavy-handed, directive providers.

With Generation X, providers should seek to establish an understanding of why a regimen is being employed. Find ways to educate these patients on what caused the condition and how to avoid recurrences as well.

The Millennials are looking for a healthcare experience that is more consistent with the communal support and technology-based access they experience in their personal lives (online appointments, texting treatment reminders, e-mail responses to questions, etc.). This generation seeks providers who understand the appeal of communal sharing. In response, some providers are creating professional Facebook pages and blogging as a way to inform their patients about current and upcoming health concerns or treatment options.

Accepting that the secret to greater quality outcomes in healthcare is improved patient compliance and this improved compliance requires behavioral change on the part of the patient, then understanding the differences in how the patient prefers to interact with the healthcare system should be the goal of every provider. As such, today's providers can learn a great deal from other service-minded organizations outside of healthcare that are successfully meeting these changing expectations driven by the newer generations.


Michael C. Howe is the former CEO of MinuteClinic, the largest retail health organization in the world. He is an expert on consumer-driven healthcare and an authority on helping healthcare leaders translate lessons from outside industries to better the continuum of care.
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