When it comes to healthcare, younger patients aren’t waiting for an appointment to see a doctor. Roughly a quarter of millennials and Gen Z people surveyed by online medical appointment booker Zocdoc view the emergency room as their primary care doctor.
In an age when you can order virtually anything online, it is not always so easy to book a same-day appointment with a physician — especially with the click of a mouse. That leaves some younger people going to the ER for routine care.
“What we're seeing with millennials and Generation Z is that they're just a lot more empowered in other dimensions of their life, where they can pull out their phone and order a cab or goods to arrive at their doorstep, book their flights,” said ZocDoc CEO Dr. Oliver on YFi AM. “Health care is really the only part — one of the few industries that hasn't caught up with this trend and isn't actually offering the millennials what they do. In terms of cost, it's actually frequently not the cheapest option to go to the emergency room.”
According to ZocDoc’s new survey of 1,028 Americans, 73% of respondents think it’s easier to go to the ER than to get a doctor’s appointment.
But older generations may still choose doctor’s visits over the ER or Urgent Care. “Only 3% of them [baby boomers] use the emergency room the same way [as Millennials and Gen Z],” Kharraz said.
And the costs of younger patients’ ER visits are adding up.
Emergency Room over-utilization cost Americans $32 billion per year, according to a study by United Health Group. “The average emergency room appointment is 12 times as expensive as seeing a doctor in person,” Kharraz notes.
Although more Americans are opting to go to Urgent Care over a primary care visit, the longing for an established relationship with a doctor still exists. “Most patients also want to have a long-term doctor-patient relationship. And that's where the urgent care model frequently falls down, and where it is actually very valuable to be able to see the same doctor on a repeated basis, as long as you have a strong relationship with them. That's what an in-office visit actually offers. And that's where, I think, a healthy long-term relationship goes.”