Before the COVID-19 pandemic upended the landscape, the healthcare and life sciences industry was in the midst of transformation.

The world is becoming more digitised and consumer power is growing. Expectations are changing for medical providers, pharmaceutical workers, and medical device companies worldwide.

Healthcare has long been a splintered landscape where communication is not personalised and transactions are overly complex. But today’s consumer expects a connected, personalised experience that’s similar to the one provided by digital natives, Amazon and Netflix. 

Healthcare, with its ‘no man left behind’ mandate, had previously approached digitalisation tepidly. The industry was careful not to tread on the toes of those who were not digitally savvy, or who had no access to online services. 


Accelerating digital transformation in the healthcare industry

Now, in the face of a pandemic and the closure of offices and medical centres, digital transformation has accelerated. Virtual meetings are the only meetings and new modalities are promising to reimagine service in the industry. This is great news for customers and patients, especially for the younger generations, who have come to expect connected experiences as standard.

Our Trends in Healthcare and Life Sciences Marketing report provides insights from 300 marketing leaders around the world. We found that Millennials and Generation Z have high new standards for personalisation and engagement. So creating a connected, bespoke journey is more important than ever. As a matter of fact, 51% of healthcare and life sciences marketers believe that a connected customer journey across touchpoints is critical to marketing success.

Let’s dig into the report and see how Millennial expectations are changing healthcare. 


The patient in the driver’s seat

Connectivity has drastically elevated consumer expectations. Today, businesses operate in a landscape where customer experience is as important as products and services. This has initiated a rethinking of how to best engage and cater to the needs of consumers. 

The healthcare and life sciences industries are not safe from this change. Nearly 7 in 10 consumers say one extraordinary experience increases their expectations of all other companies that are in the same industry. Our report reveals that most healthcare marketers are aware of the problems in the current customer journey. Only 44% believe that the experience they provide is aligned with customer expectations.


Appealing to the needs and expectations of Millennials

These younger generations may take cues from other aspects of life they’re familiar with, such as search engines and social networks. Discovering alternative sources of care is becoming easier and easier. This ups the ante for providers to improve the consumer experience. 

Finding alternative sources of care, such as the rise of apps, has never been easier. So healthcare professionals need to work on how to meet the new expectations of their customers. 

The notion of regarding the patient as a customer is prevalent in the US. But in Europe, rising expectations — even for state healthcare — can result in an increase in complaint handling and a generation more prone to self-diagnosing or treatment. European Millennials and Gen Z are increasingly self-employed. So it’s necessary to maintain happy patients to ensure they’ll contribute to the state system. 


What does ‘Generation Expectation’ want?

Understood by providers

A patient is more than their symptoms. The more the healthcare industry understands about patients, the better suited it is to adequately treat the full person, rather than just their symptoms.

Better understanding the customer’s needs is one of the reasons that unifying disparate customer data sources has become so important. In fact, 89% of healthcare and life sciences marketers list it as a priority. It’s also a reason why 90% say that engaging with customers in real time is important.

Real-time communication

Among healthcare consumers, Millennials have particularly strong demands for immediacy. They’re much more likely than other generations to be interested in things like mobile apps for health coaching, voice assistants, and texting with health coaches. 

They’re also very enthusiastic about real-time or on-the-go communication options that can provide instantaneous feedback to suit their lifestyle. The bad news is that while 63% of consumers say that instant/on-demand engagement is very important for winning their business, only 14% say that companies are meeting expectations for speedy communication.

Centralised information

Many customers report a fragmented healthcare landscape where they have to share information between parties. It’s challenging to get a complete view of their health information across the full spectrum of care. Many patients must manage their care between different parties and don’t know how to access a full record of their health. 

Web portals are very popular with Millennials because they offer a centralised hub of relevant information. 


What’s next for the healthcare industry?

Today’s customer expects proactive engagement and recognition across touchpoints. Our report reveals that 54% of customers say that a company has to offer cutting-edge digital experiences to keep their business. And 61% say that their standards for how companies interact with them are higher than ever. 

In order to meet this raised bar, the healthcare industry needs to focus on creating an exceptional customer journey, which healthcare marketers certainly understand. Sixty-one percent state that the customer journey is the primary vehicle for customer experience improvements. 

By personalising communications, connecting touchpoints, leveraging innovative technologies, and unifying disparate sources of data, the healthcare industry is well on its way to creating a better journey. Not just for Millennials, but for everyone. 

To see more about how new trends are shaping healthcare and life sciences, check out our Trends in Healthcare and Life Sciences Marketing report.