Due to exposure to technology, social networks and mobile systems, members of Gen. Z can be hyper-cognitive. Being tech-savvy they constantly document offline experiences on social media and other digital platforms. This generation has been exposed to technology at a very young age and hence, they expect speed, convenience and personalisation. Traditional healthcare systems have a lot of catching up to do in all these areas. Such a gap requires a customer-centric approach that is rooted in digital capabilities.
There are several reasons why Gen. Z is dissatisfied with traditional healthcare. In one sentence, it is because of the new trend of virtual care and retail clinics. Retail and virtual clinics are independent of hospitals and cater to the needs of the Gen. Z, that is, fast, convenient and personalised healthcare. But in a broader sense, it also has a lot to do with the change in lifestyle of Gen. Z compared to its predecessors.
According to a study by Accenture, the health needs of Gen. Z is less compared to older generations who have a higher share of chronic diseases; hence, the older generations account for most of the hospital admissions. Gen. Z’s proactive approach to take responsibility for their health and regularly take care of it is also one of the reasons why their healthcare requirements are minimal and can easily be catered to by virtual care and retail clinics. The clinics do not have advanced equipment but can treat uncomplicated minor illnesses. Their ability to provide services that are convenient is what makes them a huge success.
Gen. Z is also a lot more sceptical than previous generations when it comes to making decisions, including healthcare. They expect a high degree of transparency. They don’t take action unless they are entirely convinced it is the right move. Since healthcare is not highly data-driven yet, transparency is a challenge. Once a central database is maintained, then Gen. Z can be given consultations based on past data. Just like in any other domain, data-driven decisions are trusted because they are more often right than wrong. Big data-driven decision making will be a huge step towards improving transparency.
Gen. Z’s reliance on technology is another factor that plays a significant role in the need to change the landscape of the healthcare industry. Their dependence has given rise to a new world of virtual health care. There is a rising demand for online prescriptions that makes for a more convenient experience. Getting prescriptions online makes it easy for them to order conventional medicines online and get it delivered to their doorstep. According to a study, they also prefer consulting doctors online. Cutting edge video technology makes it easy for doctors to analyse physical symptoms and consult them.
Accenture also disclosed that about 51% of their test subjects take care of their health with a wearable device or a mobile app. These devices and apps help them keep track of their health requirements and also allows them to integrate their healthcare requirements in their day to day activities. The new healthcare trends set by Gen. Z have set a wave of steady disruption in the traditional healthcare models.
It is no secret that hospitals have to adapt to the Gen. Z lifestyle and embrace this challenge. The old practices have to come to an end or at least evolve. Hospitals have to look for a way to appeal to the everyday habits of Gen. Z. Faster, more convenient services and personalised care is the way forward. Preventive healthcare is one step that will help hospitals immensely as it is something that is not entirely possible virtually and appeals to the ‘take responsibility for your health’ mindset of the Gen. Z population. Preventive healthcare goes deep into new-gen techniques such as genomics, metabolomics, proteomics, molecular biology and digital pathology. Pathology helps in early detection and prevention, which is much cheaper than cure after detection. This is something that will align with the lifestyle of Gen. Z. The focus on wellness programs and structured management programs for rare diseases using data science and artificial intelligence is also a step forward. It is one of the reasons preventive healthcare is considered the future of the healthcare industry.
In a few years, Gen. Z will be the most prominent population in terms of numbers. They will have healthcare needs just like any other previous generations. Despite the advancements in digital healthcare, hospitals will still play a vital role in the healthcare sector. A lot of the Gen. Z population has spoken out that they would like a primary care physician but are unable to find one that meets their requirements. Hospitals, along with preventive healthcare plans and big data-driven decisions, can help solve this problem and deliver faster, cheaper and more personalised healthcare services to this generation.