Refreshed Healthy Principles for Millennials and All Generations

The fact is Millennials are the next generation, and they are now a majority in our workplaces. As with any generation before them, change will happen.

Our present and future challenges and opportunities require positive change. Some of the change may be drastic, and others may be incremental. Together, our hope is our healthcare system will change more intently and effectively to deliver an engaging triple aim: improve patient engagement, enhance quality of care, and reduce the cost of care.

Certain healthy principles stand the test of time. Although certain principles are still relevant, they are being refreshed as new technologies become available and new mindsets are adopted. Millennials will influence this renewal by the actions they take in their own health and what they innovate within the organizations they work.

Four Healthy Principles Ready for the Millennial Touch
1 – Family Connections Matter

Family is where healthy habits begin. Examples set by parents can influence how the next generation think about their own health. As each generation progresses, how we approach our healthcare does too. There are new elements to take family health habits to new levels.

Insurance coverage is one place. Through the Affordable Care Act, nearly 25% of Millennials surveyed receive insurance through their parents. One result of this is a 40% decline in uninsured between 19 to 25 years old. Access to health care is improving, along with likely better health outcomes and improved financial security for Millennials. Parents can extend coverage more easily through college and beyond, delivering a health safety if necessary.

Another family area we need to improve is recording our health legacy. The health challenges and experiences of our families need to be documented and passed on. We never know when we need a more accurate diagnosis, and offering a more complete family picture of chronic diseases and other health information can make a big difference.

Access to family health information goes beyond portals. Our smartphones now contain a lot of data, and 43 percent of Millennials want access to their health data through their smartphone. With mobility and apps a fact, big changes in how our health data is collected and stored will unfold.

Personal health records are essential. A personal health record is really a family biography and an individual autobiography. We need to write our health history and pass it on to the next generation in a seamless, complete way. Digital devices will be the vehicle, and Millennials will be the drivers.

2 – Trust Your Community and Data

Trust is shifting. In a survey, Millennials said they have no personal relationship with their primary care physician. The reason may be due to the fact that over one-third of Millennials prefer retail clinics and 25% prefer acute care clinics. Convenience dominates, as well as other potential factors – online communities and technology.

Seventy-one percent of Millennials responding to the survey said they would like to engage with their provider via a mobile app. In this technology mix is the fact that Millennials (27%) use a health or fitness app and 8% have a wearable device. My guess is these percentages have already increased significantly since the study was done.

Nearly a quarter of Millennials also have asked for medical advice from friends and family, with 53% of them considering them a trusted source of information. Online also serve a key role with 28% of Millennials trusting information from these communities.

Trust is expanding beyond just physicians and care providers. The expansion of trust is driven by having our own health data available within the palm of our hand and at our fingertips. Trust shifts, as do our health relationships.

3 – Transparency Enables Quality and Reduces Costs

Hand-in-hand with trust is usually transparency. Transparency extends into knowing what healthcare costs for an individual, prior to the visit. Transparency also extends into knowing more about other patient experiences with a doctor, dentist, hospital, or clinic.

Millennials want a price check on treatment options and may even ask for a discount (PNC Healthcare survey). More than half of Millennials think hospitals and doctors should post their prices so patients can compare. The same may be said for the desire of more online reviews of hospitals and doctors.

Healthcare needs a heavy dose of transparency. If Millennials can demand and drive this change, we all will benefit.

4 – Healthy Habits Embrace Whole Health and Self-Care

Healthcare is also personal care. Forty-nine percent of Millennials say work/life balance is a part of being healthy, ranking it higher than a dental or physical exam. More than balance is a healthy mind. Fifty-five percent of Millennials agree. The stats seem to embrace better food – organic and natural – along with better mindsets and refreshing time away from work.

Results seem to support this whole health approach:

“If we get into a good emotional state we feel vibrant and can increase the release of our feel-good hormone dopamine, which has proven to be crucial in helping people find their ‘flow’. Studies by Steven Kotler & McKinsey have shown this can increase performance by up to 500 per cent.” Salt, August 17, 2005

Health is more than just doctor or hospital care, and it is good to see this trend happening. Just as tracking care and exercise can be tiring, so can working all the time and eating too much overly-prepared food. Wellness is a motivating force today. Viewing our health in a more holistic way is a positive shift.

Healthy Generational Shifts

Millennials often get accused of being impatient. When it comes to driving change in healthcare, impatience for positive change is desirable. Family, trust, transparency, and whole health are threads that weave through the generations. These healthy threads will strengthen with Millennials and their refreshing ways. (C Space).

For Millennials, impatience can be embraced by:

• Asking for an electronic copy of your health data and then importing it into a personal health record
• Sitting down with your parents and typing relevant health history into your personal health record
• Finding the right health communities and interacting and learning from others
• Being prepared for physician visits with relevant questions to ask – go beyond the standard exam
• Asking for the costs of an exam or procedure. The more people ask, the faster change will happen
• Writing online reviews of physicians and clinics. Just use Yelp, Google+, or Facebook
• Taking the time to unplug, exercise, renew, read, and use activities to engage your whole health
Meaningful Use and the Affordable Care Act drove a lot of change in our healthcare system. Millennials hold the keys to activate and refresh these health principles!

Primary sources for Millennial statistical information:
• C Space
• PNC Healthcare

HIMSS Resources
Influential Factors and Perceptions of eHealth Literacy among Undergraduate College Students
• How to Attract and Keep Top Talent
• Patients want online access to records

Jon Mertz is Vice President of Marketing, Corepoint Health, and author of the book Activate Leadership: Aspen Truths to Empower Millennial Leaders. Follow Jon on Twitter @jonmertz.