Convenience Is Not the Only Reason Millennials are Using Urgent Care Centers More Than Emergency Rooms

Millennial trends in healthcare show patients are driving for change by using their wallets. See what these urgent care trends mean and how to evolve your ED to meet them now.

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What can millennial trends in healthcare tell your emergency department about the future?

Millennials, or those 83 million Americans born between 1981 and 1996, are currently the nation’s largest generation.

Their choices for convenience, greater transparency, and connectivity keep changing established industry standards — and healthcare is no different.

One of the biggest urgent care trends is the influx of millennial patients.

Rather than primary care doctors or hospital-based emergency rooms, millennials are flocking to urgent care centers in greater numbers than ever.

ED groups hoping to attract more millennial business not only need to know what they’re looking for but also how to adapt to the changes they’re seeking.

4 Millennial Trends In Healthcare To Prepare Your ED For

Millennials accounted for 25% of all patients seen at urgent care centers in a survey conducted by PNC Healthcare[*].

Here are four reasons millennials prefer urgent care centers and retail clinics inside CVS or RiteAid stores:

#1. Minimal Wait Times

Millennials are used to having everything they need just a few clicks away. 

This instant gratification means millennials are not willing to wait several hours in the emergency room or at the office of a primary care provider. They expect to be seen right away and have a treatment option soon after that.

According to a survey of 15 large metropolitan areas, first-time patients wait an average of 24 days just to see a primary care provider[*].

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Yet the easy, convenient walk-in nature of urgent care centers means they’ll be speaking with a physician in minutes. 

This is also why many don’t have a primary in the first place.

#2. A Decline In Primary Physicians

It used to be standard for patients to visit their general physician for an annual checkup and other preventative measures. But data reveals that 45% of adults between 18- and 29-years old do not have a primary care provider[*]. No other generation tops 28%, showing the glaring disparity. Another survey echoed these results. Researchers learned 33% of millennials skipped primary care while just 15% of those age 50 to 64 said the same.

Millennials may be starting new jobs, relocating as they move up the career ladder, or are just transitioning off their parents’ health insurance plans. So in these cases, finding a GP becomes an overwhelming task — and one that gets demoted on the to-do list if they’re relatively healthy.

Many millennials also fear the cost of healthcare — whether at a primary or the ER —  since they have no idea of knowing whether the expense will be a few dollars or thousands.

#3. Greater Need For Price Transparency

Healthcare costs are still one of the great unknowns in our world of increasing cost-transparency. Many patients don’t know how high their bill will be until services are rendered and they’re stuck with a debt they can’t afford.

Research shows millennials have had to deal with[*]:

  • Provider billing issues (40%)
  • Unexpected medical bills (19%)
  • Multiple bills for the same procedure or visit (10%)
  • Confusing bills or estimates (10%)

These past hardships may be why 54% of millennials admit they would delay or avoid medical treatment due to costs. Only 37% of baby boomers and 18% of seniors agreed[*].

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One reason for this may be due to the fact that millennials had to suffer through the Great Recession, which halted many careers and salaries. Stats show millennials earn 20% less than previous generations[*].

Rising healthcare costs only make matters worse when combined with lower salaries and a lack of transparency to help patients budget. However, retail clinics and urgent care centers post their pricing online.

So millennials don’t have to guess or worry about how much a visit for an acute ailment will cost them. They just Google the closest one and walk in.

And that’s created a huge market for competition. 

#4. Rise In Urgent Care Centers 

Since millennials love the extended weekend and evening hours, walk-in availability, and shorter wait times, urgent care businesses are popping up everywhere.

Between 2007 and 2016, urgent care insurance claims grew by 1,675% in urban areas and a whopping 2,308% in rural areas. There were well over 2,700 retail clinics in the US according to research from 2014[*]. And the number of urgent care centers jumped 5% between 2016 and 2017 alone[*].

With more quick, convenient, affordable options for millennials to choose from, an unevolved GP’s office or a crowded, inefficient ER don’t seem like attractive options.

EDs operating at max efficiency will benefit from the use and turnover of millennial patients — as long as they know how to attract them.

How To Adapt To Urgent Care Trends and Lure Millennials To Your ED

Millennials are shaping the way healthcare works with their hard-earned money.

Providers must respond to competition in the urgent care marketplace by upgrading ED operations strategies to meet these emerging trends.

To attract millennials and Gen Zers, emergency departments should:

Eliminate The Wait: Post Wait Times

Does your ED stay open 24/7 or offer same-day appointment windows patients can book online?

The more convenient your ED hours and opportunities for engagement , the better it will appeal to millennials who refuse to wait.

Along with following the best capacity management techniques to keep the waiting room moving, mobile bookings will also capture patients and lower average wait times.

It’s no surprise millennials also favor telehealth options. 

Add Telemedicine Options

Most millennials prefer video visits and live chat options with health experts over visiting the ED for minor concerns.

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Adding more telemedicine for connectivity and remote interactions may reduce your non-urgent visits, save money, and boost patient satisfaction.

The next tip should increase your walk-in numbers.

Be Upfront About Pricing

Following the retail clinic model of transparent pricing is a must if you’re aiming for millennial dollars. 

Upfront estimates increase walk-ins and patient satisfaction scores as patients know what to expect.

When they research your business, this generation will want your website to contain information such as:

  • The cost of a visit
  • Price comparison charts for services and common procedures 
  • Insurance providers you accept
  • Additional expenses and out-of-pocket costs they may face

And then you’ll also want to ask your patients for their input.

Encourage Patient Reviews

It’s smart to set up a Google business or Facebook page for your ED in addition to having your own established website. 

Besides having a way to connect and stay top-of-mind with your patients, you’ll also be able to snag patient reviews others will read before they walk into your ED. 

You can also add patient testimonials to a prominent place on your website for the same purpose.

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Data shows 67% of millennials believe they have a responsibility to share feedback with businesses about their experience[*].

And since millennials and Gen Z trust online peer reviews and recommendations more than other generations, positive patient interactions and a high review rating may lead to packed waiting rooms.

While these tips will help get more millennials through the doors, this final one will keep them coming back.

Create a Digital Portal For Your Patients

Patient portals and digital tools to help your patients connect with your ED are the way of the future.

Over 90% of patients in all age groups found patient portals very or somewhat useful. And despite the risk of security breaches, 63% were in favor of having access to their medical records[*]. 

Invest in a mobile app or mobile-responsive gateway to give your patients a secure way to connect and:

  • Book or schedule appointments
  • Automate check-ins and registration
  • Message or live-person chat
  • Check their bills
  • Pay their outstanding bills
  • Send their prescriptions to their pharmacy (or right to their door!)

Online billing options may also improve your self-pay collection rate, so that’s another major win.

If Your ED Is Ready For An Upgrade, DuvaSawko Can Help

To upgrade your ED’s ability to capture more revenue, start with a complimentary practice analysis from DuvaSawko today.

From dedicated account management to billing, coding, and compliance, we’ll help you earn more revenue so you can make these changes and attract more millennial business now and in the future.

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