How the unpredictable behavior of the millennial patient is driving health care

How the unpredictable behavior of the millennial patient is driving health care

Those in the millennial generation both confuse and fascinate many. We know how they feel about Snapchat and flexible work hours, but how do they feel about health care and, specifically, their own health? A recent study conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Novant Health among over 2,000 U.S. adults aged 18 and older, including 419 millennials aged 18-35,highlights some of the unique ways in which millennials approach and engage with health care.

Millennials believe they would be healthier if they only had more time in the day. 

Even though millennials spend a huge amount of time on the couch, 66 percent say they would take better care of themselves if they had more time to do so. Millennials report that an average day includes around 9 hours of sedentary activities – including, on average, almost 3 hours sitting at a desk for work, more than 3 hours watching TV, and just over 2 hours of social media usage. It seems as though millennials’ lack of motivation, not their schedules, may keep them planted on the couch binge-watching Netflix, rather than running on the treadmill.

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Millennials prefer to go “old school” when it comes to getting health information.

Despite millennials’ pervasive daily social media use, only 21 percent use social media as a means to diagnose themselves or a loved one with a health ailment. Surprisingly, it appears millennials rely on physicians for health information – with 46 percent of millennials utilizing their primary care providers as their major health information resource.

For millennials, respect from health care providers is a top priority.

Many may assume effective treatment defines a quality health care experience, but for millennials that’s not always the case. The study found that similar proportions of millennials say being treated well/with respect (69 percent) and effective treatments (73 percent) are how they define quality health care. Quality in health care is defined multi-dimensionally, starting with effective treatment, but respect, disclosure, meeting expectations for care and being treated as a person, not a patient, are also commonly mentioned. Around seven in 10 millennials agree with this holistic view of defining quality health care as effective treatment, being treated with respect, and being kept fully-informed.

End-of-life planning is important for millennials, but they don’t know where to start.

The death of music icon Prince and discovery that he did not have a will may have brought the topic of end-of-life planning to the minds of many millennials. Eighty-eight percent of millennials agree that end-of-life planning is important, but most (62 percent) say they wouldn’t know where to start when thinking about end-of-life care. Half of millennials (51 percent) don’t feel it is important to think about planning for end-of-life care at this stage of their life. Few currently have a living will (11 percent) or a will/testament (11 percent) in place.

“The millennial generation presents a number of unique challenges. The better we understand them, the better we will be able to serve them,” says Novant Health’s Chief Consumer Officer Jesse Cureton.

The nationwide survey was conducted online among 2,104 U.S. adults age 18 and older (including 419 millennials aged 18-35) by Harris Poll on behalf of Novant Health from March 1-9, 2016. For complete research method, including weighting variables and additional subgroup sample sizes, or contact Caryn Klebba, [email protected].