The onslaught of the active, engaged healthcare consumer has been a hot topic in the media for some time now—especially with the advent of the Accountable Care Act this year and the recent boom in the retail/urgent care industry. As patients become more conscious of their healthcare, and take control of their decision making, we, as healthcare marketers, must do everything in our power to understand what motivates the healthcare consumer in times of choice so that we can craft our communications in such a way that it resonates with our audience.

That’s why every two years SPM conducts The SPM℠ American Health & Life Study, a proprietary survey of 3700+ adults across the country, balanced to the U.S. census, that provides an up close and personal look at the healthcare consumer—not just as a consumer, but as an everyday person who has certain hopes, dreams, fears and desires. Using data from this survey, we are able to craft a well-rounded picture of to whom you are communicating to give you campaigns with greater impact.

Our most recent survey wrapped up in March of this year with a multitude of new data providing insights into the healthcare consumer of the modern day. Specifically, SPM has been exploring what the data shows in regards to generational differences in healthcare marketing between Baby Boomers, GenXers and Millennials. Some of the most profound differences we observed center around people’s healthcare “Value Equation,” and the perceived commoditization of care.

Healthcare “Value Equation”

We asked a series of questions that try to decipher healthcare consumers’ “Value Equation.” One of these questions asked people to rank in order how important each decision factor is to them if they were to select a hospital for a routine or out-patient procedure (1=Most important …5= Least important).

  • Medical Expertise – Skills and experiences of physicians and nurses, medical technologies, treatments
  • Cost – How much you’ll have to pay that insurance doesn’t cover.
  • Convenience – Easy to get to, easy to schedule appointments, etc.
  • Amenities – Environment, food, valet parking, WiFi, etc.
  • Compassionate Staff

Statistics spanning the generational differences in healthcare marketing

Implication for Healthcare Marketing: When it comes to key factors in hospital selection, the generations mostly agree on the order of importance (Medical expertise is #1, amenities is #5). However, as you transition across the different generations, you can see that Millennials give almost equal importance to all factors with a more evenly distributed weight of importance. Millennials are less willing to give up convenience and comfort in exchange for medical expertise. They demand a well-rounded patient experience, as they are used to expecting in any retail category.

Perceived Commoditization of Care

Two of the questions designed to investigate the perceived commoditization are as follows:

  • Agree or disagree: “The quality of care at hospitals is more or less the same.”
  • Agree or disagree: “If my family or I needed hospitalization, I would choose the hospital with the lowest price.”

Additional statistics on the generational differences in healthcare marketing

Implication for Healthcare Marketing: In both questions, the percentage of respondents who agreed with the statement increased significantly as age dropped. To build a relationship with the younger generations and drive patient volume, it is of critical importance for providers to establish a unique brand proposition in order to penetrate the perceived commoditization.

The above statistics are a small piece of The SPM American Health & Life Study, especially as it relates to generational differences in healthcare marketing. The vast healthcare consumer insights that we glean from this resource allow us to truly understand our audience, and therefore what motivates and drives them in hospital choice.


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