Generation X: The Next Wave of Patients

When we think about patient engagement, generations matter. The common experiences shared by individuals born and raised during a specific period help you understand and engage with them.

In health care, we love to talk about Baby Boomers and Millennials, but we often overlook a powerful segment of patients - Generation X.

Sixty-five million and counting, Generation X was born between 1965 and 1980. They own 29% of U.S. household wealth, have a higher percentage of college degrees, represent 55% of startup founders and represent 19% of the population.

“…Gen X is the triple threat in healthcare. We’re coordinating care for our kids, personally dealing with the fun side effects of our own aging and dealing with the health needs of our parents,” said Alan Shoebridge, health-care marketing strategist and co-author of Don’t You Forget About Gen X.

When it comes to selecting providers and hospitals, 75% of Gen Xers reported they are the primary decision-makers.

So how can we connect with this influential audience?

Meet Them Where They Are: This generation expects an on-demand experience with quick access to the information that matters most. We have undergone a fundamental shift in consumer expectations. Generation X expects more and wants greater convenience in their health-care journey.

When evaluating consumer preferences across three groups: Gen X, Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation; Gen Xers reported the highest rate of dissatisfaction noting:

  • I wait forever in my Primary Care Physician’s waiting room. 45%
  • It’s hard to get an appointment to see my Primary Care Physician when I really need to. 40%
  • After seeing my Primary Care Physician, I often feel that many of my questions or issues have not been fully addressed. 42%

All patients want to be seen and heard. Generation X is among the first generations who feel empowered to direct their health-care services and act on their behalf. In the era of disrupters offering on-demand access to health care and touting convenience and price transparency, we should consider our patient journey and ensure that convenience, personalization and compassion are paramount at every encounter.

Relationships Matter: Jerry Stiedaman of VSA Partners said in MedCity News that most Gen Xers distrust medical establishments but are generally trusting of their individual providers. Meaningful connections with patients help build credibility, trust and long-term commitments.

The Consumer Compass survey examined Gen X’s level of trust across different mediums regarding health care. A health system’s owned media, which includes your website and direct mail, are highly trusted by this generation. Traditional media like television, radio and newspapers closely followed. Social media, which is popular among other generations, trailed the list.

So the next time you walk into a patient room and are greeted by a coveted Gen Xer, remember this article. Regardless of our generational label, we are all patients who want to be cared for on a personal level by someone we trust.

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