A patient is a patient is a patient, right? Perhaps in the physical sense, but not so in the mental sense. Believe it or not, the generation your patient hails from has a lot to do with how that patient interacts with you and understands treatment protocol.
The Silent Generation: 1900-1942
These patients are not ones to talk—publicly or privately—about personal topics. They are not typically Internet savvy and will rely completely on you for guidance, so stay engaged on a face-to-face basis. Mentioning anything computer-related, such as EMR or email, will likely fall on deaf ears. You may need to involve family members to monitor these seniors between visits because they’ll keep a “stiff upper lip” and not want to burden others if they feel unwell.
Baby Boomers: 1942-1964
Boomers actively engage in taking care of their health via traditional and alternative methods. These patients came of age in the 1960s, a time of great social, economic and political upheaval, and as a result are open to the latest technology, protocol and treatment options. It’s not unusual for Boomers to prefer a mix of Western and Eastern medicine. They’re used to questioning authority so expect them to push back. It’s nothing personal.
Generation X: 1965-1984
Yuppies came from this generation: they’re independent and seek a work-life balance. Gen X patients actively involve themselves with EMR and online communications. They are the most likely of the generational groups to ask for multiple opinions until they find the what they feel is the ideal provider and course of treatment. Patients from this era are methodical and self sufficient; they are results oriented and will probably prove to be the most interactive patients on your roster. They want to know the what, why, when and how.
Millennials are technologically savvy and are the most physically distant from traditional provider-patient/face-to-face interactions. They want as much information as possible in the least amount of time, preferably without having to actually visit a provider’s office. Technology rules their lives and they expect 24/7 access to services and information. Online medical records and health reports are a perfect pairing for this generation. Try to keep consults short and offer to communicate via email or text.
While there are always exceptions to every rule – former President Jimmy Carter at 92 years young still Tweets and actively engages in philanthropic and charitable projects-these tips should guide providers through the maze of communication-both verbal and tech-based-with their patients to assure they all receive the best medical care possible.