Urgent care providers should take note of the driving force of Millennials in today’s healthcare market.

A recent article in the magazine ExecutiveInsight outlines several ways that Millennials are driving the medical industry and businesses. Of particular note to urgent care centers, the article says:

“Unlike their parents, most Millennials don’t have a strong relationship with a primary care physician. Additionally, they’re generally distrustful of a hospital’s ability to provide cost-effective and convenient care, making them more likely to seek out alternatives like retail clinics or urgent care. For providers that aim to attract and retain Millennials, utilizing and promoting an after-hours clinic or urgent care services is crucial for the future of care; but that’s just the starting point. These after-hours clinics or urgent care locations must be high-tech facilities that offer online appointment scheduling, virtual consultations, heath concierges and wellness services in addition to basic medical testing services.”

Millennials make up a quarter of patients at urgent care centers and a third of patients at retail clinics, according to a 2015 survey done by PNC Healthcare. That’s double the number of baby boomer patients visiting those types of healthcare facilities.

“Millennials will overtake boomers as the nation’s biggest consumer buying group, shifting the purchasing power,” said Jean Hippert, senior vice president, PNC Healthcare.  “The rules of evolution dictate that those insurers and health care providers that survive or thrive will be those that adapt sooner than later to the preferences of this fast-paced, technology-driven generation.”

To design urgent care service that appeals to Millenials, consider the following six elements of a winning patient experience.

Convenience

From fast food to online media to home delivery of just about any product, Millenials are used to getting service “on demand.” The concept of waiting days or weeks for an appointment is foreign to them. (And recent nationwide surveys show the average wait time to get into a primary care physician is close to 20 days.) The inherent convenience of urgent care–with neighborhood locations, walk-in service, and extended hours—positions it well to serve this “on demand” generation.

Efficiency

Millenials have been catered to all their lives and are used to dealing with companies who invest significantly in creating differentiated customer experiences. As a result, Millennials have little tolerance for hassle in customer service. It’s imperative you make urgent care registration easy, utilize technology, have clear financial and billing policies, and offer straightforward flow through the clinic. Millenials are impatient, so visit times should be fast—in and out of the center in an hour or less. (Thirty minutes is a better goal.) When wait times are inevitable, use technology to pre-register a patient or text the patient about the physician’s delay. Millenials want to feel informed and that they are waiting “on their own terms” to minimize negativity in the experience.

Face time

Millennials want to have their medical concern fully understood, so it’s important providers spend sufficient time listening to the patient and then explaining their recommendations. Technology can help clinicians illustrate medical conditions or treatment plans to Millennial patients. “Don’t forget, Millenials are digital natives, and the Internet is second nature and information has always been at their fingertips,” the ExecutiveInsight article explains.

Appealing facilities

Millenials will ultimately compare their urgent care visit to other retail experiences, not to hospitals or other healthcare institutions. So it’s important the physical facility is clean, modern and efficient. Most Millenials bring their own wireless devices (phones and/or tablets) but don’t want to burn data in your waiting room. Thus, having Wi-Fi in the center is critical when appealing to Millenials. The urgent care environment is inherently stressful, but access to Wi-Fi dramatically diminishes anxiety by allowing the patients’ attention to be consumed on their own devices.

Relationship management

Urgent care is well positioned to be an access point or front door to the community’s health resources. Because Millenials are fairly inexperienced users of the healthcare system, they are more likely to turn to urgent care first. The responsibility then falls on urgent care providers to link those Millenials to specialists or primary care physicians when the patient’s need is beyond the scope of care offered at the center.

Conclusion

Clearly appealing to the Millennial market segment is key to the long-term business strategy and success of urgent care.  “Most Millenials take pride in the businesses, brands and products they engage with and value,” the ExecutiveInsight article points out—so winning a fans in this generation will pay off in word-of-mouth and social media grassroots marketing for the urgent care center.

Plus, drawing this younger generation in for a patient-centric experience that also addresses health concerns before they escalate is good for the bottom line in healthcare.