• September 11, 2019

Millennials count on change


Were you born after 1982? If so, you’re part of the millennial generation – and you’re packing a lot of punch in altering the health care field.


Millennials – born between 1982 and 2000 – make up 83.1 million people in the U.S., almost one-quarter of the population, and are overtaking the baby boomers. While the numbers are dominating, millennials have other notable characteristics: 44.2 percent are part of a minority or ethnic group; they are digital natives with nearly 98 percent owning a smartphone, and they want a “consumer-centric experience, including convenience,” a recent Forbes article says.

Think about the impact of having a phone in your hand has had in how you find information and transact business. Search for a dry cleaner who will pick up and deliver your cleaning to your home. Book a vacation. PayPal for your pet sitter. Peapod for groceries. Amazon for everything!

As a millennial, think about how you practice dentistry. Your personal expectations no doubt spill over into your professional expectations. Whatever your practice – a solo office, a multi-doctor practice, corporate office – you have no doubt made suggestions about the content for a webpage, Cloud apps to improve scheduling, even office payment options, all with an eye to improving the speed and convenience for patients that you value as well. Joe Harpez chronicled some millennial expectations for Forbes Magazine. As the president and COO of an IT company called Modernizing Medicine, Mr. Harpez says millennials are “shaking up” health care.


  • They take care into their own hands. They value convenience and availability over a relationship with a doctor.
  • They do their research. Millennials come in the door fairly informed after researching their own health concerns and conditions before seeing a doctor. They also trust online health information. Online reviews and social media commentary guide their decisions on doctors and treatments.
  • Millennials are twice as likely as baby boomers and seniors to request a cost estimate before treatment then check prices against other providers. Millennials are more likely to skip care because of cost. A survey by Becker’s Hospital Review found 71 percent of millennials want to schedule appointments through an app, access medical records online and receive automated appointment reminders. More than two-thirds would prefer post-care follow-ups via email or text message instead of the phone. Some even prefer follow-ups through Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa, who recently became HIPPA compliant.
  • They are redefining “healthy” to mean more than “not sick.” They make healthy eating and exercise priorities and include mental health as part of overall “wellness.”
  • Millennials will shop online for insurance plans, with cost guiding their decisions. They are less loyal to a carrier and more price conscious.

Mr. Harbez says millennials have a lot of power and influence now in the $3.4 trillion health care industry. Their preferences are making “inroads,” he says, as the industry is adopting digital options for care, retail walk-in clinics and more transparency in treatment costs.

Dental practices will adapt as well as millennials take them over from baby boomers. Expect a faster transition to tech-savvy management, community engagement through social media and an emphasis on work-life balance, according to George White, writing in the Journal of Dentistry and Oral Care.

Kimble Jenkins, CEO of OrthoSouth, concurs on the millennial influence, he told Mr. Harbez, noting how their expectations are changing the landscape for his multi-office orthopedic practice in the Mid-South.

“The changes in health care being driven by millennials are long overdue.  Today’s patients – millennials in particular – have become more informed and more demanding. Their push for improvements is making health care better for everyone.”

Photo by Eva-Katalin

The views expressed in this column are those of the writer and not necessarily the opinions of the Chicago Dental Society.

CDS presents Front Desk, a column addressing issues facing dentists and staff members experience in the office.

Front Desk is prepared by Stephanie Sisk, Assistant Director of Communications for the Chicago Dental Society.


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