Preparing Your Practice for Generation Z

A new generation of clients will soon be knocking on your practice’s door (or visiting your practice’s URL). We’re talking about Generation Z, generally regarded as those born between 1995 and 2012. Although many Generation Zers are still too young to choose their own providers, they’re already starting to make their mark on the healthcare industry. A truly digital generation, many have never known a world without smartphones, Facebook, Netflix, and Amazon. It’s a generation of tech-savvy individuals who will want to engage digitally with their healthcare providers like never before.
With Generation Zers, it’s all about efficiency and convenience. Providers who embrace electronic health records (EHRs) and robust practice management tools will be among those who survive in the brave new world of Generation Z.

Why Generation Z matters to your practice

Representing 26% of the U.S. population, Generation Zers are now the largest generation alive. If providers intend to remain in business for the next decade or more, they must be ready to give this new generation of roughly 80 million healthcare consumers the type of digital experience to which they’ll be accustomed in other industries. This includes the ability to book appointments online, complete paperwork electronically, message providers directly, and more. Failure to adopt these features could easily—and very rapidly—cause providers to become obsolete. Simply put, embracing the digital healthcare revolution in all of its various facets helps providers remain viable as Generation Z quickly becomes their largest patient base.

Is your practice ready for Generation Z? Download our free guide for a list of ideas on how to be prepared.
Text: Guide to Getting Started With Generation Z with image of guide and download button.

5 ways in which Generation Z may reshape your business

To prepare for Generation Z, providers should consider how to enhance the following five business processes:

1. Attracting clients.

When marketing oneself to Generation Zers, the Internet isn’t the most effective tool—it’s the only tool. Having a website won’t be optional—it will be a requirement as members of this generation rely on Google when making any and all important, healthcare-related decisions. A basic website with a practice’s name and location won’t be enough to engage Generation Z. Instead, they’ll look for interactive features, attention-grabbing images, useful clinical content, and links to social media profiles that providers update regularly.
This is already true for millennials, says Shawn Davis, LCSW. “My millennial clients engage easily when they see that I’ve taken the time to put up a dynamic website,” she adds. “They love website sliders and pictures. Visual media is crucial to reaching them.”
When it comes to choosing a healthcare provider, Generation Zers will value others’ opinions. This means providers must be more aware of their online reputation than ever before. This requires proactively monitoring and responding to feedback and paying attention to ranking and directory sites.

2. Booking appointments.

Generation Zers won’t want to play telephone tag with a receptionist or wait on hold for more than a few minutes when booking an appointment. In fact, when compared to other generations, Gen Zers are much less comfortable talking to people on the phone. Instead, they want the ability to book online when it’s convenient for them. Providers that allow patients to self-schedule will be ahead of the game. The same is true for those who send automated appointment reminders via text because Generation Zers will want this as well.

3. Completing paperwork.

Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials may tolerate filling out pages of paper forms when they arrive for an appointment, but Generation Z definitely won’t have the time nor patience. Instead, they’ll want the ability to complete forms and questionnaires in advance using their Android and iOS mobile devices. It should be a quick process that requires minimal data input, and all forms should integrate seamlessly with the practice’s EHR.

4. Engaging with clients.

Face-to-face visits will be critical in some instances; however, Generation Zers will also want the ability to communicate via email and text messaging.
“There is more expectation for ease of contact outside of business hours, and the preference is that it be via text message or email rather than phone,” says therapist Jenn Popovich.
Lindsey Huttner, LCSW, agrees. In talking about millennials, she says: “I find they are more likely to communicate openly during and outside of session. They reach out more aptly through text or email when they need support on an issue and request an emergency appointment when something unexpected occurs.”
Virtual access will also be important, especially when Generation Zers have busy schedules, live in geographically remote areas, or simply prefer to meet with providers while in a location of their choice. The ability to offer video sessions will truly set providers apart from their competitors.
Yesenia Reta, LCSW, says many millennials already participate in telehealth at her practice. “My experience is that they’re the most likely to take advantage of the online counseling option I provide,” she adds.

Do you have a client portal?

When thinking about engagement, providers should also consider offering a client portal where Generation Zers can access their own health information, download forms and other documents, and upload data from their mobile devices. Many portals also offer patients the ability to send secure HIPAA-compliant messages to their provider, thus expanding communication beyond the four walls of the practice. This appeals to Generation Zers, who value their provider relationships as much as they do the clinical services that providers render.
Engaging Generation Zers isn’t just about technology. It’s about being able to communicate with clients in a way that works for them. Generation Zers will want to talk about their Fitbit data and the latest clinical study they read online. They’ll want to see their own health trends over time. They’ll want suggestions on what mobile apps can help them achieve their health goals. And most importantly, they’ll want to know the costs of certain services. Generation Zers will appreciate providers who are transparent with their fees and who can demonstrate the value of the services they provide. To them, it’s about finding the right provider at the right time and for the right value.

5. Collecting payments.

Mailing payments won’t be an option for Generation Zers. In fact, they’ll view this payment method as highly antiquated because it requires a stamp and the added step of going to a mailbox, neither of which are time- or cost-efficient. Generating easy-to-decipher invoices—along with the ability to accept credit card payments online via a secure online portal—will make providers and their practices more appealing. Practices that go one step further, enabling patients to securely store credit card information for one-touch payments will stand out even more among competitors.
Providers who take the time now to explore how Generation Zers may affect their business will be among those who remain most viable in the future. It takes time and effort to implement new technology and processes; however, providers will quickly realize that doing so not only attracts Generation Zers, but also streamlines overall efficiency and profitability.

Is your practice ready for Generation Z? Download our free guide for a list of ideas on how to be prepared.
Text: Guide to Getting Started With Generation Z with image of guide and download button.

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