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."