Younger consumers in the U.S. and six other advanced countries are more dissatisfied than older people with many characteristics of traditional healthcare, such as treatment effectiveness and lack of convenience and responsiveness, a new Accenture survey found.
In addition, millennials and the generation that follows them, Gen Zers, are much less likely to have a regular primary-care physician compared with baby boomers and Gen Xers.
But cost transparency is equally important to both younger and older consumers, with 65% saying it’s a very important or critically important factor in satisfaction, Accenture said.
The authors of the Accenture report concluded that younger consumers are not satisfied with the status quo and are more willing to use nontraditional services like urgent-care centers.
“The providers and payers who heed the shifts and deliver what patients are looking for will be the ones to earn loyalty, navigate disruption and be strongly positioned as the future of healthcare consumerism unfolds,” they wrote.
The online survey, conducted by Oxford Economics in November and December of 2018, included nearly 8,000 consumers in the U.S., Australia, England, Finland, Norway, Singapore and Spain.
It found that 55% of Gen Zers and 67% of millennials reported having a regular primary-care physician, compared with 76% of Gen Xers and 84% of baby boomers. Some younger consumers said they would like to have a regular doctor but haven’t found one who’s affordable and convenient.
A 2018 Kaiser Family Foundation survey and a 2017 Employee Benefit Research Institute survey yielded similar results on having a regular primary-care doctor.
Nearly half of all the Accenture respondents across age groups reported using walk-in or retail clinics.
Experts are concerned that the shift from established relationships with primary-care doctors to use of walk-in clinics and online telemedicine sites may drive up costs and fragment care, leading to greater unnecessary use of antibiotics and other types of care.
The youngest adult consumers were the most unhappy with the traditional healthcare delivery experience. Twenty four percent of Gen Zers said they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with providers’ responsiveness to follow-up questions outside the appointment, via phone or email, compared with 15% of millennials, 12% of Gen Xers and 11% of baby boomers.
Younger consumers said they were much more likely to choose providers with digital capabilities, such as online appointment scheduling, prescription refills, and access to test results and medical records, Accenture found.
Still, the expectations for digital capabilities among consumers of all ages jumped from 2016 to today. For instance, 69% of respondents in the new survey said they would be more likely to choose a provider with the capability of communicating through secure email, compared with 53% in Accenture’s 2016 survey.
And 53% said they would be likelier to choose a provider who could remotely monitor their health indicators, compared with 39% in 2016.
Dr. Kaveh Safavi, senior managing director for Accenture’s global healthcare business, said the findings show that societal preferences rather than physician relationships are shaping healthcare delivery settings.
“This emerging trend will give health systems an opportunity to brand themselves,” and it “shifts the center of gravity” toward patients, he said.