Tech health care and the problem with targeting Gen-Y

Tech health care and the problem with targeting Gen-Y

Summary: Is Gen-Y's reliance on mobile technology detrimental to their health?


Generation Y may be stereotypically associated with being fed a steady diet of MP3 players, iPads and smartphones, but does its behaviour move beyond simply using social networks and search engines, and apply to the use digital networks for the benefit of their health?

For a generation used to accessing information instantaneously on their mobile devices, it is possible that they may feel a disconnect from healthcare services for which technological, communicative innovation is still in its infancy.

A recent survey conducted by ZocDoc and Harris Interactive polled over 2,000 adults nationwide regarding their opinion on healthcare access and found that within the Generation Y -- 18 - 34 year olds:

  • 54 percent say they process of dealing with their health is "frustrating";
  • 63 percent feel that they are at the mercy of their doctor's or dentist's front desk staff when making an appointment;
  • 76 percent said it is easier to find information to help them find a hotel that fits their needs than to help them find a doctor or dentist;
  • 64 percent feel that when choosing a new doctor or dentist, they do not know how to adequately evaluate whether or they fit their specific needs.

More than half of those surveyed within this age group viewed accessing medical care as a 'pain', and due to this, have delayed getting medical attention in the past.

The survey, conducted online within the United States between April 19th and April 23rd, 2012, implies that for a generation which may only make up 23 percent of the population but also claims the majority of smartphone and tablet owners, antiquated processes and a lack of transparency or real-time information may in fact have more detrimental effects than previously realized.

For a society that expects information to be available immediately, today's healthcare system does not necessarily cater for this demand.

"This study highlights the need for the healthcare space to play technological catch up to other industries," said Dr. Roshini Rajapaksa, Assistant Professor of Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center.

"If we are not technologically savvy enough to make healthcare user friendly for our young population, then this generation will be less likely to regularly seek out the preventive care they need and deserve. As a physician, that's incredibly concerning."

Mobile innovation is a trend that has exploded in recent years -- and has disrupted industries from business and design to retail. However, perhaps healthcare needs to think about catching up. There are existing startups which cater for health services -- such as booking an appointment or recording prescriptions -- but there is yet to be an explosive contender that would disrupt digital healthcare in an irrevocable way.

ZocDoc founder Dr. Oliver Kharraz concluded:

"This study highlights that Generation Y is feeling powerless and frustrated by the current state of healthcare. As these young, connected patients solidify the health behaviors they'll practice throughout their lives, it's more important than ever to equip and empower them to take control of their own health by offering them more digital and mobile tools, services and information.

By finding a way to bridge the gap between Generation Y's expectations and healthcare's inefficiencies, we can help alleviate some of this generation's pain points as we enter into a new era of healthcare."

Image credit: JF Cherry


Topics: Health, CXO, Legal, IT Employment

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Maybe they're "not doing it right"

    In terms of finding a doctor or not, I've had very little trouble, because my provider has that handy search tool on their website that lists the "in-plan" doctors. Since it lets you specify a search radius with a particular ZIP code as the primary search parameter, they should have very little trouble finding a doctor under their coverage....with the primary problems being whether the doctor is listed individually or as part of a larger practice. The tool also lets you see every doctor, or pick a particular specialty (i.e. OB/GYN, oncology, etc.).

    As for being 'at the mercy" of the front-desk staff... if the doctor had to take the time to field phone calls & set up his own appointments, people of all ages would [b]never[/b] go to the doctor, because the lobby wait times would double or triple at a minimum. Perhaps they could have provided a definition of what they meant by this question, because otherwise it just sounds ridiculous for them to even complain about it.

    Regarding the evaluating of a doctor... if they still live in the general area they grew up in, they can usually just stick with whatever family doctor their parents had. It maintains continuity, reduces the problems of records being lost or misinterpreted (as well as reducing the number of unnecessarily repeated procedures), and avoids the problems of finding out that "Doctor X" isn't taking "new" patients (since they used the doctor as a child, they -- and their spouse -- aren't considered "new patients"). If they've moved too far away from home to use the prior doctor, they could always try asking friends & co-workers to refer them to a good doctor. There's a concept: actually communicating with other people.

    Unfortunately, there's not much they can do about the "frustration" of working with health care. Even those of us just a few years too old to be considered "Gen Y" -- as well as our parents -- find dealing with health care issues to be frustrating at times. However, the problem is usually with the [b]insurance company[/b], not the doctor.
    • You mean the 'death panels'?

      Reality took for a turn once the media started reporting newborns being denied coverage due to "pre-existing conditions"...

      And the claims that the medical industry artificially controls its supply, which also has the added bonus of keeping costs higher...
    • At the mercy of the front desk staff?

      I've had the experience and managed to get through it. However, I wonder if sometimes the problem lies farther back in the office complex.

      I called the number of a physician (urologist) whom I've been seeing over six years, pressed 2 to get his triage nurse--who would call back tomorrow, if it were after 4:00 (it was 8:30 AM)--and left a message with my birthdate, telephone number, and the rather straightforward question. After another attempt in two weeks. I gave up. This was the third time in two years I had tried and have not been called back. Years ago, the call would come back the next day.

      I don't know whether the physician was blowing me off or the message was getting lost before it got to him. When it came to my appointment, I asked the question and he didn't seem to be too interested. I finally decided this wasn't working and decided another physician might be a better choice.

      It should be noted that I am in an area that has a good supply of physicians and I have insurance to cover my needs. If a patient lacks either of those, she/he won't have as many options.

      Incidentally, and by contrast, I called the clinic where my optometrist practices to ask if bright flashes of light were important. (My wife was a nurse in ophthalmology surgery, so I already knew the answer.) The receptionist went into turbo, it seemed, and started asking if I could get in at this time (less than my driving time to the office) or this time or this time, and I was in within a very short while. That office has it together.
  • This is not restricted to health care

    Most service industries have these issues. They are built on ancient IT systems that tend to break when fixes are attempted. They don't allow for today's life styles in their interactions with the public.

    Make an appointment for almost any kind of service in with a large company. You have to pick a day and they tell you the choices. You usually can't ask for any appointments on Mondays or Tuesdays before 10 AM. You have to pick a day one at a time and ask. (These folks should look at the various sports ticketing systems, which while far from perfect are much better at letting you find a slot (ticket) on your own much faster than when talking to a person.)

    And the total interactions between prescriptions, drug stores, test results, faxing, emails, etc... is a total mess. Some of it as a result of HIPPA I'm sure. But why can my doctor's office send me birthday emails but not confirmations and test results?
    • Not always

      Those that upgrade to the latest often bleed financially.

      Those that never upgrade and grin over "cost savings" often end up spending more, too...

      And who said making appointments is for OUR benefit? ("OUR" as in "we the patients and customers"...)

      One day "Y will ask WHY", which might also hint as to why their generation was labeled 'Y'. We 'X'er lot might know why...
  • Sounds to me like...

    They are still a bunch of spoiled kids that want everything handed to them.

    1. Is dealing with the doctor or the insurance company "Frustrating". Don't lump both under health.
    2. Do you really expect to just walk in any time you please without waiting? Should the doctor be making appointments instead of seeing patients?
    3. If you can't find information about choosing a doctor from the many sources available then you are either lazy or dumb.
    4. If you can't evaluate a doctor..ask friends, family, co-workers. It's not really that hard.