On any given day, in the waiting room of any pediatric office in the United States, the majority of parents with kids in tow will be Millennials. In 2016, 80% of new mothers were millennials, and while older or younger generations may continue to have children, the sheer size and diversity of Millennial parents make these Moms (and Dads, and other caregivers) an important, if innovative, staple of any pediatric practice’s community.
By understanding the needs and desires of this generation of parents, your practice can win over the toughest customers and welcome a new wave of healthcare accessibility, long-term relationships, and healthy kids to your practice.
In 2019, Millennials surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest generation by population at 72 million according to Pew Research, and the generation continues to grow as young families and individuals immigrate to the United States to begin or raise children. Defined as people born between 1981 and 1996, as the oldest Millennials enter their forties and the youngest approach their thirties, Millennial parents are and will continue to present at pediatric practices as the significant majority of new and long-term patient caregivers.
While these demographic trends are positive for the growth of pediatric medicine, there are other factors at work that imply that Millennials will arrive in reception rooms for many years to come. For example, Millennial women are waiting longer to become parents than prior generations did, making them older first-time parents than previous generations.
Millennials may be delaying parenthood, but it’s not for a lack of interest in eventually becoming moms and dads, which means that to attract new patients, pediatricians will need to connect with Millennial mothers and fathers on topics they care about, like parenting. Members of this generation rated "being a good parent" as a top priority in a 2010 Pew Research Center survey. Some 52 percent said it was one of the most important goals in their lives, well ahead of having a successful marriage.
The Challenges of Serving the "Me" Generation
Psychologists, politicians, and the media have described Millennials as the “Me” generation, attributing to them the traits of confidence and tolerance while decrying perceived narcissism and entitlement. Of course, it is impossible to apply blanket descriptions of 72 million Americans who vary widely in temperament, demographics, and background.
For example, not all Millennials are as tech-savvy as some claim, but many do expect a standard of quality from websites and digital assets that allows them to access the information they want promptly. Understanding the general traits and expectations of this generation can help practice administrators and physicians understand parents’ motives and even offer ideas as to how to better serve them.
Here are a few more generalizations about Millennials:
- They want instant gratification and recognition.
- They insist on a work life balance.
- Due to their exposure to computers and the internet, they are tech-savvy.
- More than any other generation, they are connected to each other through social media.
- They crave authenticity in every part of their lives.
Taking into account that the above statements may or may not be true of individuals, here are some examples of what Millennial parents expect of their pediatrician. They want:
- Prompt responses to online and in-person questions about their child
- An online presence that offers trustworthy information and news about the practice
- Hours, services, and access to practice resources that accommodate a variety of work, school, and childcare schedules
- The ability to access information and complete tasks like paying bills on the practice website
- For pediatricians to have a positive reputation based on word-of-mouth and online reviews
- True relationships with their physician to better understand their child’s healthcare needs and gain parenting advice
Luckily, Millennials are not only parents and customers of pediatric practices, but are constantly joining the team as front desk people, physicians, nurses, billers, and administrators. Their influence on practice culture has led many practices to welcome the innovations that Millennials desire of their own accord, providing convenient services parents want like patient portal communications and drive-thru flu clinics.
Since the coordination of information between caregivers and your practice requires top-ranked technology capabilities, this is where a pediatric-focused electronic health records (EHR) software like PCC’s can help.
The 3 Things Pediatricians Can Do to Attract and Retain Millennial Moms
Like it or loathe it, technology has come to the pediatric office to stay. For the overwhelming number of parents – the Millennials – this technology is not only welcome but critical to their trust in the physician who treats their child. Plus: technology is great for your practice’s marketing strategies.
Here’s why you should pay attention: as Dr. Todd Wolynn discusses in this 2021 webinar on vaccine communication, when pediatricians have a firm grasp of technology, they wield a powerful tool that offers parents convenient access to healthcare information outside of your practice’s four walls. This communication therefore provides many more opportunities to engage with families and build parents’ trust – the cornerstone of successful healthcare.
Chip Hart, Director of Pediatric Solutions at PCC suggests 3 actions a pediatrician can take to attract and retain Millennial parents as they raise families in their own unique ways.
1. Be Social
"In spite of its annoying volume, privacy issues, and questionable history with disseminating anti-science voices, social media is important to these parents to evaluate healthcare options and decisions as a community," Hart says.
"It is therefore critical for a pediatrician to think through his or her social media strategy. Be very specific and even precise about how you want your practice portrayed – as friendly, trustworthy, innovative, or inclusive. Consistent, impactful messaging, delivered in moderation, is the key to social media success."
"Too many messages can be as bad as too few,” Hart warns. “Find the correct balance in the number of posts and the content – such as research, wellness tips, nutrition, vaccinations – that you deliver."
2. Be Tech Savvy
"Up-to-date technology is very important to Millennial parents because they have grown up with digital tools, and will expect you to have them," Hart said. "In a pediatric office, being tech savvy starts with a robust, pediatric-focused EHR. Of course, we believe PCC has the best platform on the market!”
"Efficient intake procedures, insurance processing, and billing, not to mention clinical services and family/sibling histories, are all driven by the EHR. A clumsy, poorly designed website does not inspire confidence among tech-savvy millennials, either.
Most importantly, you need an effective portal - one that doesn’t go down, understands adolescent privacy, and allows you to exchange forms, photos, and messages securely and easily."
Don’t forget a great practice website – Millennial moms want to find your phone number, important links, and to learn more about you with a few simple clicks. Finding new patients depends on giving these parents the information they need in convenient ways. Learn more about how to build an excellent practice website your parents will love in our previous post.
3. Be Authentic
"Of all medical specialties, pediatrics is perhaps the most personalized. Pediatrics, at its best, is highly personalized,” Hart says. "Most pediatricians genuinely love their patients and will sacrifice time away from their personal lives to help them. It’s why they go into medicine."
Showing this care and concern – this authenticity – is a very important part of attracting and retaining Millennial parents. This can be done by counseling parents with specific guidance found in the Bright Futures program, knowledge of siblings' medical histories, and parent training and engagement. A pediatric-focused EHR makes these connections easier for pediatricians to access sibling charts, Bright Futures guidelines, and the latest AAP parent guidance, right from the EHR.
Pediatricians don’t only serve Millennial moms and dads, of course. Increasingly, pediatricians are Millennials, as well as parents themselves. They can likely confirm that parents’ desire for authentic connections in a digital world, engagement in their child’s healthcare, and the convenience of accessing healthcare information quickly online and off are signposts on the way to the future of pediatric healthcare.
The changes are many and can be intimidating, but pediatricians who acknowledge this generation’s expectations and who can get comfortable embracing innovations in technology and traditional medical practices are setting themselves up for success.
Ready to learn more about what it takes to be engaged with parents all year long, especially about vaccine information? Learn how pediatricians are fighting misinformation, vaccinating more kids, solidifying their role as trusted healthcare resources, and protecting kids’ futures in this webinar hosted by Dr. Todd Wolynn, MD FAAP and CEO of Kids Plus Pediatrics.