Americans from the Silent or Greatest Generation (born roughly before 1945) have, until recently, made up a disproportionate number of healthcare patients as they age. These seniors tend to listen to their doctors, obediently follow their healthcare system’s rules, and select their local community hospital when they have a choice of facilities.
But Baby Boomers (born roughly between 1946 and 1964) are now between about 54 and 72 years old, and they have become the largest generation of healthcare consumers. Generation X (born roughly between 1965 and 1980) isn’t too far behind. Boomers and GenXers tend to be more demanding as consumers and as patients, and Millennials are likely to drive that trend even further.
As Patient Focus reports, “A physician or hospital may provide the highest level of clinical care with the finest of outcomes, but that is only a fraction of what the patient experiences in your office or facility. Successful practices and facilities will deploy new models that accommodate the Boomer as the patient-customer…Quality is defined by meeting or exceeding expectations, and as the business of healthcare continues to evolve, those physicians and facilities that treat Boomers as partners, consumers, and ultimately as valued customers will exceed Boomers’ expectations. Boomers believe they are your customers. You should too.”
Baby Boomers are increasingly tech-savvy; the Pew Research Center found that 83 percent of younger Boomers and 76 percent of older Boomers are using the Internet. All generations prefer to use technology to communicate with their doctors. According to Solutionreach, “patients want to have more meaningful, convenient, and efficient experiences with their doctors, evidenced by over half of boomers, 60+ percent of gen X and 70+ percent of millennials wanting online, email, and text communication options.”
As healthcare consumers become more demanding and tech-savvy, their expectations of the hospitals they use also get higher. They’re doing online research, choosing hospitals with higher patient satisfaction scores and lower infection rates. They expect their healthcare providers to stay current with technology and other services.
On the patient safety front, simply having posters in the hallway reminding providers to perform hand hygiene is no longer enough. When technology like Clean Hands – Safe Hands exists that reminds clinicians to clean their hands when they forget – which drastically increases hand hygiene performance and reduces HAIs – healthcare consumers are becoming less tolerant of the status quo. Particularly when they know the old way of doing things risks their health and even their lives. Healthcare organizations need to ensure they’re truly 21st century hospitals, or they’re going to lose patients to their competitors that are.
If you’d like to explore how our system typically doubles hand hygiene performance rates and reduces HAIs by up to 75-80%, here’s a brief video about how it works. Or here’s a white paper on How the New Joint Commission Hand Hygiene Standards Could Impact Your Hospital.