A national survey by the healthcare database company Vitals found that Generation Xers, by and large, "don't trust their doctors," and are more likely than those from other generations to believe providers "care more about money than patient well-being." Perhaps it's no surprise that Gen Xers tend to shun medical advice, and only 56 percent have a primary care provider.
"I think this demographic is more skeptical than previous generations," said Kristina Redgrave, innovation solutions manager at Fuse Cardinal Health, the company's innovation center. To build trust and win Gen Xers over, Redgrave recommended healthcare organizations move toward increased transparency and strive to improve digital engagement. She said Gen Xers want to know the following: "What do your services cost? How are your physicians rated by other patients? And how are you communicating with patients between appointments when they're not in your facility?"
Gen Xers, like Millennials, will go online to research their conditions, investigate treatment options, and check the backgrounds and qualifications of their doctors. Redgrave added: "This generation views their care as more of a partnership. Providers should approach them like they're on the same team."
One way providers can approach Gen Xers as a team member is by working together to make decisions around procedures, treatments and care plans, based on clinical evidence that balances risks and expected outcomes with the patient's preferences and values.
The Mayo Clinic offers a Shared Decision Making National Resource Center, which provides example decision aids for patients and an implementation tool kit for organizations.
3. Help them care for both children and aging parents
When Gen Xers need healthcare for themselves or their families, they don't want to wait around. A pair of surveys by The Advisory Board Company found that members of this generation want 24/7 access to their providers and expect to be seen within 30 minutes of their appointment time.
However, that access doesn't necessarily have to be in person, the Advisory Board reported. The vast majority of Gen Xers are open to using telehealth technologies when it comes to the care of a sick child, for example, and 72 percent would consider a "virtual visit" for a sick parent.
Gen Xers are in a powerful position when it comes to healthcare; they have control of their own health and wellbeing and influence the healthcare of others. "Given their family obligations with caring for themselves and their children and aging parents, they’re driving a large portion of healthcare spending decisions right now," Redgrave said. That will change with the coming generational shifts. But for now, she said, Gen X is in charge. "It's a good idea to listen to what they have to say."