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    Chris Harrop
    Chris Harrop

    The Medical Group Management Association’s most recent MGMA Stat poll asked healthcare leaders if they plan to market their practice to Gen Z patients: 27% answered “yes,” 68% answered “no” and 5% reported they were “unsure.” Respondents were then asked to elaborate on their answers.

    Those who answered “yes” indicated:

    • We are working with a marketing firm to identify how to address the many segments of our population.
    • We are using Facebook, Snapchat and geofencing.
    • More self-service options: telehealth, electronic appointment reminders and scheduling, communicating with providers electronically (patient portal), electronic bill paying options, electronic access to results and medical records.
    • We will be targeting this generation for cosmetic procedures for vision and plastics.
    • Shifting almost 90% of our marketing dollars to Internet-based efforts.

    Those who answered “no” elaborated:

    • Not our age group.
    • We have just begun to focus on marketing, so we are in generalities, not particular targets.
    • I hadn't thought about directly marketing to this group.
    • We haven't discussed this at all.

    This poll was conducted on June 18, 2019, with 852 applicable responses.

    What’s the difference between a millennial and a Gen Z-er? No, this isn’t the set up to a joke — it might just be the next big question in understanding the next wave of patients headed to your medical group practice.

    After Generation X suffered through a decade or so of think pieces proclaiming them to be slackers, observers of societal trends have had a decade to prognosticate on millennials — or Generation Y, for the alphabetically inclined — and invent new ways to urge the young folks of the nation to stay off our lawns, in so many words.

    But now that the oldest millennials are about to turn 40 in another year, it’s almost time to give Generation Z — pick your own goofy nickname for them — their turn underneath the generational microscope for generalization and stereotyping. Beyond the usual refrain that they are “digital natives” and quite tech savvy, Generation Z individuals are generally born between 1995-2015 and make up nearly 2.5 billion folks in the United States today.

    So how do you begin to understand this new group of potential patients? Opinions already abound:

    • Nielsen’s Global Health and Wellness Survey from 2015 found that Generation Z was the most health-centric and willing to pay a premium for “healthier” products.
    • Accenture’s 2019 Digital Health Consumer Survey suggests Generation Z is more likely than other generations “to seek out wellness practices (e.g., yoga, acupuncture) beyond Western medicine,” and that younger consumers — Gen Z and millennials — are dissatisfied with numerous aspects of traditional care, especially transparency on cost of care, treatment effectiveness and responsiveness to post-appointment questions sent via email or phone.
    • Similar to millennials, the youngest healthcare consumers are more likely to not have a primary care physician, according to a July 2018 poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, though this should not come as a surprise, since younger patients tend to utilize health services much less than older patients.
    • Generation Z-ers may be more inclined to connect with visual messaging after growing up using Instagram and other visually dominant social media, according to Scott S. Christensen, DNP, MBA, APRN, ACNP-BC, clinical operations director at University of Utah Health, who wrote about the role of generational differences for nurse managers in the September 2018 issue of Journal of Nursing Management.
    • Psychotherapist and author Nicholas Kardaras, PhD, LCSW-R, suggests that Generation Z patients may be more prone to behavioral or psychological problems, including sleep disorders, related to use of social media affecting self-esteem.
    • Laurie Demeritt, chief executive officer of consumer behavior consulting and research firm The Hartman Group, urges those marketing to Generation Z to remember that these patients “are already highly proactive participants in health and wellness,” and that businesses seeking to stand out “need to act as a trusted resource” to engage them.

    Does this mean anything for your medical group practice? If you are focused on bringing in younger patients and establishing relationships between them and your providers, it certainly might have implications for how you market your practice, including maintaining a social media presence and managing your online reputation.

    Additional resources

    MGMA Stat is a national poll that addresses practice management issues, the impact of new legislation and related topics. Participation is open to all healthcare leaders. Results of other polls and information on how to participate in MGMA Stat are available at:

    Chris Harrop

    Written By

    Chris Harrop

    A veteran journalist, Chris Harrop serves as managing editor of MGMA Connection magazine, MGMA Insights newsletter, MGMA Stat and several other publications across MGMA. Email him.

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