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– Denise Adamson, Corporate Vice President, Sales, BioIQ –

There are now more than 80 million millennials – individuals who reached adulthood around the turn of the 21st century – in the U.S. Not only is this group, also known as Generation Y, America’s largest generation, it’s also the most diverse. According to a 2016 Pew Research report, the millennial generation continues to grow as young immigrants expand its ranks. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2030, this tech-savvy generation will make up 75 percent of the workforce. With their growing numbers comes great spending power and increasing influence on just about every industry. Accenture estimates millennials spend about $600 billion a year. To leverage this huge market opportunity, organizations including health plans must understand how millennials access information and how they want to communicate. According to International Business Times, one in five millennials access the internet solely from a smartphone or tablet, rather than a desktop computer. This means health plans must have an online presence and their member portals need to be mobile optimized if they want to reach millennials.

For health plans to stay competitive and attract (and retain) millennials as consumers, they must leverage digital solutions that enable this generation to be in charge of their care and medical spend. Most millennials do not engage with their health plan through its website or email contact forms. That’s surprising, considering they interact with digital technology in almost every other aspect of their lives and have a more of a positive view of it than any other generation.

One explanation for this disparity is that this group of digital natives doesn’t perceive value from health plans’ technology offerings. Communicating via chat, email or other technological means must be easy and resolve issues to demonstrate value to these consumers. Most health plans report low use of their portals and other technological solutions. The issue isn’t that consumers don’t want these tools – the issue is that the tools being offered in many circumstances are too basic, cumbersome to use, and out of date. According to research from Nielson, more than 74 percent of millennials feel that new technology makes their lives easier, and 54 percent feel new technology helps them be closer to their friends and family.

One thing millennials do want from their health plan is access to wearable devices to track healthy activities. Several studies have found that millennials are looking for programs that reward their healthy behaviors. They’re more likely to participate in population health programs that leverage wearable technology to upload information about their nutrition choices and physical activities and allow them to earn rewards. Most health plans do not offer these programs or they don’t utilize technology in a way that their millennial members find worthwhile.

Given the growing influence, purchasing power and the sheer number of millennials, it’s important for health plans to embrace aspects of consumer technology and find creative ways to deliver value on a day-to-day basis.

Learn more about BioIQ’s digital engagement solutions.

Denise Adamson is corporate vice president of sales at BioIQ, where she is focused on providing simple screening tests through employers and health plans to help identify risks for chronic disease.

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