We live in an age where we demand instant gratification. Seeing a movie is as simple as sitting on the couch and ordering it on demand, and even making a cup of coffee takes only seconds. Having quick access to medical solutions is no exception. Advisers should note that as more millennials enter the workforce and later generations leave delivering speedy available options through technology for healthcare is going to be the norm.
At 53.5 million workers, millennials now represent the largest number of people in the workforce, surpassing Generation X in 2015, according to a new study conducted by Blue Research on behalf of WebMD Health Services. With both millennials and Gen X making up 34% of the workforce and baby boomers at 29%, the findings underscore the role of digital fluency, the rise of healthcare consumerism and the impact of work-life demands on the generations in the U.S. workforce.
“Clearly, millennials are more open to digital health technologies and wellness solutions, and they are driving the healthcare provider community on the need for greater convenience and accessibility,” says Dr. Michael Sokol, chief medical officer for WebMD Health Services. “At the same time, the findings suggest significant engagement gaps with Gen Xers and boomers, who may be at a point in their lives when they can most benefit from wellness solutions.”
When asked about the use and interest in digital health technologies, nearly half of millennials, at 45%, say they currently use these technologies; 34% indicated that they plan to do so. By comparison, less than one-third of Gen Xers and only 14% of boomers currently use digital health technologies and only 26% and 10% plan to do so.
Awareness and use of wellness programs in the workplace run parallel with these numbers, with 71% of millennials utilizing their wellness programs, while 56% gen Xers and 49% of boomers use theirs.
“Since wellness is too important to leave any segment of the workforce behind, it’s crucial that employers and health plans recognize these differences and personalize solutions and communications to be generationally relevant,” Sokol says.
Jeff Oldham, vice president of consumer strategies at Benefitfocus, says anyone who bets against technology or does not utilize the health technologies available to them need to understand that this is not going to change and resistance is not really an option.
“When it comes to healthcare, millennials are driving the migration to virtual healthcare,” Oldham says. “They are disrupting benefits. I don’t mean that as a negative like they are kicking out old insurance methods, but they are disrupting it for the good.”
Millennials are also showing greater concern for the future of their health, with the majority of millennials, at 72%, indicating they exercise at least once or twice a week. Gen Xers remain on par with millennials in this respect, but boomers drop to 57% when asked about their physical upkeep.
Millennials take on saving for retirement
Concern for the future of their physical health is not the only point of wellness millennials are cognizant about, but their financial wellness as well in terms of prepping for retirement.
Tom Parks, director of retirement services at Annex Wealth Management, says that even though millennials may not be saving much now for their retirement, the fact that they are asking questions about how much to put into their 401(k) or other retirement plans is a major step in the right direction.
“The fact that they are even having a conversation about that is encouraging,” Park says. “Millennials know they should save, which is half the battle because we don’t have to convince them that they should save.”
Similar to how health and wellness management is moving to a tech-focused position; financial wellness should also be doing the same through mobile technology. In fact by 2018, the next generation of digital technology will impact around $2.67 trillion in the financial services sector, according to a recent study by Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work and Roubini Global Economics.
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