Ros Lederman, CareContent

What Surgery Taught Me About Marketing To Millennials (Part 2)

In part 1 of this 2-part series, I outlined 3 lessons I learned about healthcare and marketing to millennials when I needed surgery to repair a torn meniscus:

  1. If possible, be upfront about costs and insurance coverage.
  2. Provide a single point of contact. This makes managing care much easier.
  3. Help us prepare for procedures by giving us important information ahead of time.

Here are 3 more ways that healthcare organizations can work on marketing to millennials.

1. We’re Not Special Snowflakes, But We Are Individuals.

There’s this common (mis)perception that millennials believe we are unique to the point of deserving special recognition for just being ourselves.

While that’s taking things a bit far, getting treated like an individual is actually something that all patients can benefit from—no matter how young or old they are.

marketing to millennials

So, even though my pre-op appointments with my surgeon, Gregory G. Markarian, MD, were relatively brief, I always felt like I was being listened to, and my needs and emotions were being respected.

When Dr. Markarian found out that I write about healthcare issues for a living, he knew that I would want detailed explanations about my injury and its treatment. Even though his office was hectic (they had just opened at this particular location, so everything was still being set up), he brought me to a computer and showed me my MRI, so that I could see the tear.

And when my parents wanted to know more information than I felt comfortable trying to relay to them, he didn’t mind that I put them on speakerphone, so that they could be a part of my appointments.

This recognition that I am a person with feelings continued with some—but not all—of the hospital staff.

Before the surgery, as I was lying in bed getting hooked up to an IV, a nurse brought me warm blankets for my cold feet. And when I was in recovery, I was starving but too groggy to choose between graham crackers and saltines to go with my ginger ale. Another nurse brought both to my bedside.

As simple as these gestures were, they meant a lot to me.

2. A Little Bit Of Clarity Goes A Long Way.

Here at CareContent, we talk a lot about the importance of health literacy—a person’s ability to manage her own health, wellness, and medical care. One of the main goals we have in creating content is to increase the health literacy of our clients’ patients.

I’d like to think that working here has boosted my own health literacy as well. But there were plenty of aspects to my experience that proved I still have a long way to go. Meniscus surgery isn’t a heart transplant, but it’s more complex than you might think.

Fortunately, there are simple steps that healthcare organizations can take to make to help.

For instance, 3 weeks post-op, I got a 2-page printout from the hospital with an itemized list of charges for everything from the anesthesia used to put me under to the bandages I woke up with. The total for all of the items was more than $12,000.

I had no idea what the purpose of the printout was. It didn’t say it was a bill—but it didn’t say it wasn’t a bill.

All I knew was that the total was well beyond anything I could afford. As I mentally began to make plans to give my 2 cats to my friends and move back home, I did what any panicking young adult would do: I called my parents.

After I sent them pictures of the printouts, we determined that these were charges the hospital billed to my insurance. I didn’t owe anyone $12,000. My cats would get to stay with me. I wouldn’t have to move into my parents’ basement.

Something as simple as “THIS IS NOT A BILL” typed in all caps across the top of the pages could have gone a long way toward avoiding that panic and confusion.

3. Marketing To Millennials Isn’t Rocket Science—But It’s Just As Beneficial To Society.

I really want to end this piece with a third point about how physical therapy is actually more painful than the surgery itself. But that isn’t particularly relevant to the topic at hand.

Ultimately, marketing to millennials is something that healthcare organizations can do pretty easily. It doesn’t have to involve coming up with trendy Twitter hashtags or putting QR codes on bus stop ads.

The payoff is pretty clear, too: Satisfied and health-literate patients. And fortunately, after my experience fixing my torn meniscus, I can say I am both of these things.

The only downside is that my friends were looking forward to adopting my cats. But this is one instance where I’m glad to disappoint them.