May 1, 2019

How Will You Communicate With Generation Z Healthcare Consumers?

Compared to the millennials before them who grew up as digital natives with internet access most of their lives, Generation Z is the first age group who are true mobile natives, coming of age with near-constant access to mobile devices. While smartphone ownership is nearly ubiquitous among both cohorts, Gen Z uses mobile and technology differently.

Generation Z includes those born between 1997 and 2012, according to Pew Research, making them ages seven to 22 in 2019. As the oldest Gen Zers are just starting to graduate high school and college, they are still in the formative years for financial and health habits. We can, however, draw some insights from what we know about the iGeneration (another term for Gen Z) to help healthcare providers manage patient communication and billing processes effectively.

What We Know About Generation Z So Far

  • About 95 percent of teens have smartphones, inclusive of race, gender, socioeconomic, and geographic differences
  • Nearly half are racial or ethnic minorities, making Gen Z the most diverse generation
  • 32 percent save enough money each month and feel confident in their financial future (second only to millennials)
  • Nearly 1.5 times more likely than millennials and twice as likely as Gen Xers to grow up in a household with at least one college-educated parent, translating to more affluent upbringings
  • Enrolling in college at a significantly higher rate than millennials were at the same age; on track to become the most well-educated generation
  • 87 percent live in metropolitan areas
  • Twice as likely to make a mobile payment as the rest of the population
  • 53 percent have made a mobile payment in the past six months and are looking forward to making “more and more” mobile payments in the future

Tips for Effective Healthcare Communication With Generation Z

Mobile Is Big, But Don’t Ignore Other Devices

Generations are defined in part by the technological revolutions of their time. Baby Boomers had TV, Generation X had computers and internet access, and Generation Z has the explosion of mobile devices and constant internet connection.

It’s no surprise that Gen Zers are comfortable with mobile devices and wearables, which extends to their payment habits as well. Sixty-nine percent of Gen Zers use banking apps at least weekly, and 68 percent say they want instant person-to-person (P2P) payments, like those offered by popular apps Venmo, PayPal, Zelle, Cash App, Google Pay, Circle Pay, and many others.

Mobile is huge, especially for payments, but don’t sleep on other types of technology. According to a Generation Z study, 50 percent have access to a tablet, 75 percent to a laptop, and 50 percent to a desktop computer. These younger consumers are heavy mobile users, but may likely interact with your communications on other screens as well.

Make Your Messaging Clear and Be Prepared With Exceptional Customer Support

The oldest members of Generation Z are just entering adulthood, and it shows in their billing comprehension. Research from Aite Group holds some telling statistics about Gen Z’s relationship with financial communications:

  • 80 percent contact companies with billing questions (compared to 73 percent of U.S. population)
  • 53 percent pay bills late (compared to 46 percent of U.S. population)
  • 30 percent find bills confusing (compared to 22 percent of U.S. population)

These statistics point to one major issue: Gen Z wants to call your billing department for support, which can be draining on your resources. They have a lot of anxiety when it comes to knowing what they need to pay and how to pay it. Make it easy for them by removing extraneous messaging from their healthcare statements, providing one clear call to action, and sending the bill via the channel they feel most comfortable. Clarity and brevity can also combat short attention spans and encourage younger payers to take action.

Beyond messaging, clear and convenient recurring payment structures and online self-service payment portals can be effective in capturing payments, preventing late payments and bad debt, and circumventing customer service calls.

Simply offering online and mobile payment options isn’t effective for Generation Z. These younger healthcare consumers also require education so they know how to navigate the healthcare system for the first time. Surprisingly, senior citizens outpace Gen Zers 53 percent to 39 percent when it comes to managing bills online — a stat that speaks more to the younger generation’s inexperience than their comfort with online billing.

Adapt to Their Alternative Financial Habits

We have to wait and see how Generation Z’s financial habits form as more of the group comes of age, but preliminary studies show that Gen Zers are saving more money than other generations did at a young age. Research suggests that Generation Z teenagers are “more entrepreneurial, savings-conscious, and fiscally savvy than past generations” and may not be as affected by the Great Recession of 2007–2008 as their millennial counterparts.

Also interesting is how Gen Zers manage payments and finances outside of conventional institutions. Consider these statistics that show a shift in payment trends:

  • 37 percent of Gen Z consumers ages 18 to 23 prefer debit cards (compared to 34 percent of millennials at the same age)
  • Only 18 percent of Gen Z consumers ages 18 to 23 use cash (compared to 33 percent of millennials at the same age)
  • Credit card ownership among Gen Z is historically low — 51 percent do not plan to apply for a credit card
  • 64 percent have made a purchase via mobile in the past 30 days (compared to 38 percent of average consumers)

Keep an Eye on Insurance Trends

One of the most interesting developing trends to keep track of is how Generation Z will pursue health insurance. With this generation entering the workforce en masse over the next several years, they will be navigating the sometimes confusing and often-expensive world of healthcare insurance plans.

Under the current Affordable Care Act (ACA) legislation, all children can stay on their parents’ eligible health insurance policies until they turn 26 years old, regardless of their marital status, living situation, financial dependence, or eligibility to enroll in an employer’s plan.

We will again have to wait and see how this generation handles health insurance but keep a close watch on legislation related to repealing or restructuring the ACA as those efforts are ongoing.

Given what we know about Generation Z being more financially savvy and risk-averse, it’s reasonable to expect that they will opt for either employer-offered plans or state exchange plans — both likely to be high deductible health plans.

RevSpring Can Help

Integrated payment communication is part of RevSpring’s DNA. We tailor the payment conversation to influence behavior and inspire action. Our segmentation rules and workflows help you become hyper-focused on the patient, understanding their ability to pay and mapping their financial obligations to repayment pathways.

If you’d like to learn more about our comprehensive patient engagement and billing solutions, we’d love to help you. Request a demo to see how we can help your organization meet its goals.