The adoption of digital trends among millennials and Gen Z is a well-documented phenomenon. But baby boomers — people born between 1946 and 1964, accounting for 76 million Americans — are in lockstep with their younger counterparts in their use of new technologies. Doctors must realize that their baby boomer patients are increasingly plugged in and reliant on digital tools along their journey to care.
According to a Doctor.com survey, 76% of the over-60 cohort use the internet for healthcare-related reasons, and 70% use the web to specifically find new providers. They turn to online patient reviews and ratings when choosing a doctor, then use online appointment scheduling to take that final step.
For doctors, targeting the baby boomer generation would be a wise strategy. They are lucrative patients, controlling most disposable income in the country. And with many of the aging population staring down the barrel at major health concerns, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, baby boomers are more in need of care — and great doctors — than ever.
To get on a boomer’s radar and see them through their care-seeking journey, healthcare providers need to step up their online strategy. Make sure the following three aspects of your web presence are in shipshape to attract baby boomers and win their long-term business.
1. Accurate and up-to-date listings data that doesn’t lead them to frustrating dead ends
Contrary to popular belief, boomers have a great deal of tech savvy. But that doesn’t mean they’re willing to go to great lengths to hunt down information online. If you don’t have the correct contact information, a live URL, an up-to-date list of the conditions you treat and procedures you offer, and other key pieces of information, you’ll see steep patient drop-off.
Encountering inaccurate or outdated information about a provider is a huge pain point for patients looking for new doctors: About half of directory information is incorrect across the health and consumer web. Since nearly 70% of patients over 60 will seek care elsewhere if your listings aren’t up to date, it’s critical to regularly check the sites patients use and make sure the content’s fresh.
2. A 4- or 5-star online reputation that spurs confidence and builds trust
Millennials get a bad rap for being less loyal to their doctors than previous generations. But baby boomer patients aren’t that loyal either: 35% have left doctors on their own volition in the past year. While they largely rely on personal referrals as the first step in finding a new doctor, a solid majority (80%) will then turn to the internet to look up a recommendation.
Once a baby boomer comes across your practice online, wow them with high ratings and a deep well of patient reviews — or risk referral leakage. Patients of all ages put a lot of stock in online peer reviews. In fact, most trust them as much as a recommendation from someone they know! Boomers like to validate health-related decisions with their own research, and online reviews play a huge role in getting them over the hump.
3. Digital scheduling capabilities that empower baby boomer patients to request and secure appointments
There’s no argument that millennials, who are increasingly stepping into the role of caretaker and making appointments for aging patients, prefer to book appointments digitally. But it’s not just a millennial thing. It’s an everyone thing. On the technological front, boomers have seen a lot of changes over the course of their lifetimes, and they’re not as resistant as they’re made out to be. Today, one third of baby boomer patients would rather make appointments via digital means instead of calling the office, and that number keeps growing year over year.
For patients and caregivers, online scheduling eliminates long hold times, miscommunications, and other frustrations that the traditional phone call introduces. There are many benefits for your office, too, including the ability to maintain around-the-clock office hours at a decreased workload for staff.
While millennials generate a lot of media buzz, for many doctors, it’s the baby boomers who make up the largest part of their patient base. A digital-forward strategy is the approach to reach this generation and assure affluent, care-needing boomers that you’re the right doctor for them.