Why Are Millennials Vital to Health Care?

Before we dive in, it is important to ensure we understand some of the characteristics of the Millennial Generation. The timing of this generation is generally those born between 1978 and 2000 (some say those born after 1980). Some of the characteristics of this generation include:*

  • 3/4 have created a profile on a social networking site
  • 2/3 say “you can’t be too careful” when dealing with people
  • 83% say they place their cell phone on or right next to their bed while sleeping
  • 38% have a tattoo, but 72% say they are hidden by clothing
  • 56% say they got vigorous exercise in the last 24 hours

*Millienials: A Portrait of Generation Next, Pew Research Center, February 2010

The characteristics carry a strong mix of using technology, incorporating social life into technology, being distinct while shielding some it, and embracing some healthy traits.

“Overall, Pew says, Millennials are confident, upbeat and open to change.”

Study: Millennial generation more educated, less employed, USA Today, 02/23/2010

They are generation next.

Disruption Is Required

The other generations have grown grumpy and more focused on the problems rather than the opportunities. Before you go off on me, I acknowledge this is an over-generalized statement and, for the record, I am not a Millennial (far from it). I am part of the grumpy Baby Boomer generation.

The non-Millennial generations are set in their ways, with a few slivers of success in adopting new technologies and engaging our health care in new ways. We need to take it up a notch; we need to disrupt the non-Millennial mindset.

To make the point, here are some key questions that should be answered:

  • How many Millennials are involved in committees for HL7 or other healthcare standards?
  • How many Millennials are involved in ONC task forces and committees?
  • How many Millennials are involved in the health industry trade groups such as HIMSS, AHIMA, RBMA, SIIM, etc.?
  • How many health care provider organizations or trade associations or standards organizations have a mentoring program to bring Millennials into the process and tap their energy and ideas?
  • How many Millennials attend healthcare IT trade shows and summits?

The easy answer is “not many.” Many are eligible to attend, meaning they are old enough and educated enough to add a valuable voice to the conversations.

I know, the first response will be “no one is stopping them from coming…” True, but how welcoming are we? How willing are we to involve them in the work that needs to be done and giving them a seat at the policy and standards-setting committees?

Why Do Millennials Matter to Health Care?