Millennials are driving an important shift in the health care industry. This generation of digital natives, born between 1977 and 1993, is demanding that health care professionals embrace new technologies and deliver more convenient services than ever before.
To meet Millennials' demand for digital health care, an increasing number of physicians are moving away from paper-based records to electronic health record (EHR) systems. According to a report released by the CDC in 2014, the percentage of office-based physicians using EHR systems increased from just 18 percent in 2001 to 78 percent in 2013. The number of hospitals using EHR systems has also increased dramatically during this time period.
The adoption of EHR systems by physicians' offices and hospitals means that health care professionals can more easily record and share patient information. This shift in the health care industry helps patients get the treatment they need from all the professionals involved in their care. Electronic health record systems help prescribing physicians avoid dangerous drug interactions and makes it easy to see if patients are up to date with their vaccinations. Electronic systems can also send reminders to patients to let them know when they need to come in for an annual physical or a scheduled appointment.
Many EHR systems allow patients to access their own medical records from their personal computers or mobile devices. As the majority of Millennials are heavy mobile device users, with more than 80 percent saying in a Nielsen survey that they even sleep with their smartphones, this development makes it very easy for patients to access their health records and review the information that their physicians gave them during appointments.
Millennials are also highly informed and often like to be actively involved in managing their own health. This generation is more likely to ask health-related questions, either during appointments or via email contact with physicians. Many Millennials are also part of the quantified self movement, which involves using apps and other technological gadgets to track health markers. This clued-up generation is prepared to work with health care professionals to diagnose and manage long-term health conditions, which can make it easier for doctors to achieve good outcomes for their patients.
Millennials are also willing to shop around and find the best health care professionals for their needs. They read reviews online and ask for recommendations when choosing a new doctor. Health care professionals need to respond to this demand for high-quality care, or lose out to their competitors. Poor online reviews can seriously damage the reputation of a hospital or physician's office in today's world of user-generated content.
Millennials are driving important health care trends, including the increased use of technologies such as electronic health records. Health care professionals should also adapt to the new data-driven approach to patient care to avoid losing patients to facilities with more up-to-date practices.
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