The latest generation to pay attention to makes you work harder to win that attention... and their business. In healthcare, the challenge is even greater.

Millennials, a generation that numbers more than 83 million Americans, are skeptical of physicians. Only about half of millennials visited a doctor's office in the past year, according to one study. And, only 41% of millennials said they view a doctor as the best source of health information in a survey by GHG / Greyhealth Group and Kantar Health.

Instead, millennials prefer to self-diagnose their problems through online research. However, the generation is aging, with the oldest among them approaching 40, and they're becoming parents. Like it or not, these facts mean they're going to progressively need care from actual medical professionals.

That means there's a huge untapped segment of the population that could use healthcare services. The members of this generation have shown they're loyal to the brands they select — but these consumers aren't easily won over.

So, how can your healthcare organization persuade millennials of the merits of in-office medical services, particularly in your facility? It's time to throw out the marketing approach that worked for previous generations and create a new plan that revolves around how Millennials expect to be approached.

Get Mobile
The first step is to meet Millennials where they are: on their mobile devices, i.e. smart phones and tablets. Affluent millennials spend up to 53 hours per week online. They're used to getting all the information (they think) they need online, and even making purchases through those mobile devices.

Use this to your advantage by optimizing your website for mobile devices and creating mobile apps that make researching your offices and booking an appointment convenient. On your mobile-friendly website, incorporate digital resources such as online bill pay, online appointment scheduling, appointment reminders, and a robust, content-rich provider directory that helps consumers find the physician who would be the best match for them.

Some healthcare organizations have even begun partnering with “social media influencers" — those online stars who have hundreds of thousands or a million followers — to promote their healthcare services subtly and naturally, which can help increase leads and referrals among the people within their networks.

Thirty percent of Millennials said they consult blogs and message boards for health information in the GHG / Greyhealth Group and Kantar Health survey. They rely on parents and friends for service referrals — and those friends can sometimes be anonymous online reviewers who are demographically similar to themselves. So, getting good reviews is important. Focus on building strong relationships with every patient, which a good customer relationship management (CRM) tool can help you with, as a way to win over Millennials.

If you have great online reviews from your patients, display those prominently on your website and social media pages.

Don't, however, talk yourself up. Millennials see that as heavy-handed marketing-speak, and they don't respond well to hospitals boasting about their A+ rating for an award they've never heard of. Trumpet the praise of patients and consumers, but don't brag about yourself. Yes, that's a fine line to walk.

Conversation is a Two-Way Street
Don't market to Millennials. Engage with them.

Ninety-two percent of Millennials expect to have full two-way electronic communication with their providers. Collecting real-time feedback allows healthcare organizations to take advantage of that expectation by putting digital outreach at the forefront of their feedback operations.

With feedback in hand, show you're paying attention. Build real relationships that demonstrate to patients that the facility — or more importantly, the physician — genuinely cares about their well-being.

Do that through content that aligns with their values and is personalized, helpful, and entertaining rather than a straight sell, content that fosters ongoing communication with messages that convey the relevant information quickly and clearly.

Be Open and Honest, Even About Prices
Millennials are used to transparency. One study showed that 41% of millennials are likely to request cost estimates before undergoing treatment. Of course, for the most part, healthcare providers can't differentiate on price. But, it's important that you don't appear to be hiding your prices, either. If a Millennial thinks you're hiding prices when they are easy to figure, that consumer will believe you're hiding something from him or her. Be upright and forthright with your audience. It will have an impact.

While you likely can't control costs to patients, you can create convenience and quality through those online apps and personalized content through your messaging.

Worth the Effort
Millennials can be difficult to win over, but the effort is worth it. By thinking like a Millennial and approaching them through the avenues they've come to expect, you can gain loyal new patients among members of that generation. Shifting to a digital-first, instantaneous mode of feedback can help you better understand their needs and reach them where they are — online and on mobile devices. If you can do that, you'll be rewarded with Millennial loyalty.

Want to learn more about how your organization stacks up against millennial standards? Request a free healthcare marketing assessment.