News, Analysis, Trends, Management Innovations for
Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

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News, Analysis, Trends, Management Innovations for
Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

Hosted by Robert Michel
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Understanding Gen Z’s Approach to Healthcare Helps Clinical Laboratories Learn How to Better Meet Their Needs

Healthcare providers of all types will benefit from acknowledging Gen Z’s preference for digital interactions, self-testing, and over-the-counter medications

Each generation has its own unique connection to how it manages its health, and the latest studies into the healthcare habits of Generation Z (aka, Gen Z or Zoomers) are providing valuable insight that savvy clinical laboratory managers and pathologists—in fact all healthcare providers—can use to better serve their Gen Z patients.

According to McKinsey and Company, Gen Z’s “identity has been shaped by the digital age, climate anxiety, a shifting financial landscape, and COVID-19.” And Pew Research states that Zoomers “are also digital natives who have little or no memory of the world as it existed before smartphones.”

As the largest demographic, “Gen Z stands 2.6 billion members strong. … Globally, they hold purchasing power of more than $500 billion and mobile buying power of $143 billion,” wrote Stacy Rapacon, Managing Editor at Senior Executive Media, in an article she penned for HP’s The Garage.

Meeting Gen Zers’ healthcare needs on their terms would seem to be a judicious choice.

Bernhard Schroeder

“Gen-Z’s buying power may exceed $3 trillion,” wrote Bernhard Schroeder (above), a clinical lecturer on integrated/online marketing at San Diego State University, in Forbes. “Their spending ability exceeds the gross domestic product of all but about 25 of the world’s countries.” Thus, it behooves healthcare leaders, including clinical laboratory managers and pathologists, to consider how best to approach treating Gen Z patients. (Photo copyright: San Diego State University.)

Gen Z Leads in Digital Healthcare Use, Self-testing, OTC Drugs

“Gen Z engages in every type of digital healthcare activity more than other generations,” a recent study by PYMNTS noted. A total of 2,735 consumers were surveyed, and though all reported using digital healthcare to some degree, Gen Z stood out.

Patient portal access was the highest digital method accessed by Zoomers (62%), followed by telemedicine appointment usage (55%), the PYMNTS report found.

Knowing the direction Gen Z is trending may lead clinical laboratory leaders to expect self-testing to be on the rise, and that hunch would be correct. “There are two converging trends; the rise of women’s health technology and increased use of at-home sample collection for diagnosis tests,” Clinical Lab Products reported.

“Ongoing innovation in these areas could significantly improve the accessibility of women’s health testing. It will also have repercussions for labs, potentially changing the way samples are received and processed, and the way results are distributed. The quantity and quality of samples may be impacted, too. It’s important for labs to be aware of likely developments so they can prepare, and potentially collaborate with the health technology companies driving change,” CLP noted.

Another area feeling the impact of Gen Z’s healthcare spending is the over-the-counter (OTC) drug market.

“Since the pandemic began, more Americans are paying closer attention to their symptoms and looking for easily accessible information about over-the-counter medications, especially for allergies, coughs, and headaches,” said Kim Castro, Editor and Chief Content Officer for US News and World Report, in a press release.

Zoomers Want Healthcare on Their Own Terms

Gen Z grew up with the internet, Amazon, Netflix, Google, and social media since birth.

“The ‘norm’ they experienced as children was a world that operated at speed, scale, and scope. They developed an early facility with powerful digital tools that allowed them to be self-reliant as well as collaborative,” anthropologist Roberta Katz, PhD, a senior research scholar at Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) told Stanford News.

As digital natives, Gen Z can be more science and data driven and yet still expect to find health advice on YouTube or TikTok. According to an article published by Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, “Gen Z is the first generation to grow up surrounded by digital devices, and they expect their health benefits to be digital, too. From choosing a benefits package to finding a provider, Gen Z wants to take care of their health on their own terms. And that may just include video chatting with a doctor from the back of an Uber.”

In its 2022 US Digital Health Survey, research firm Insider Intelligence found that “Half of Gen Z adults turn to social media platforms for health-related purposes, either all the time or often.”

“Gen-Z will make up 31% of the world’s population by 2021 and they have deeply formed perceptions and beliefs … This has led to an amazing change in the way Gen-Z is disrupting several industries simultaneously,” wrote Bernhard Schroeder (above), a clinical lecturer on integrated/online marketing at San Diego State University, in Forbes.

What Can Clinical Laboratories Learn from These Findings

Gen Z seeks accuracy and trustworthy information. “Gen-Zers’ natural penchant for skepticism and frugality—coupled with low levels of confidence in the US healthcare system—makes them less likely to trust providers, more likely to research prices before seeking care, and more apt to worry that their health insurance won’t cover their treatment,” Insider Intelligence noted.

According to Contract Pharma, “Gen Z is concerned with holistic health and self-care, rather than a one size fits all pharmaceutical approach. They share a hesitancy for traditional healthcare models but with very interesting differences. By understanding these differences, the consumer healthcare industry can focus on agile and distinctive brands to harness Gen Z’s tremendous purchasing power.”

Savvy clinical laboratory leaders can better serve their Gen-Z client physicians and patients by better understanding why Zoomers are more inclined to order their own lab tests (without a physician), collect their own specimens to send into labs, and/or collect their own specimens to do home testing (think COVID-19 self-test kits). Zoomers may need an entirely new business model from their healthcare providers, including clinical laboratories.

Kristin Althea O’Connor

Related Information:

What is Gen Z?

On the Cusp of Adulthood and Facing an Uncertain Future: What We Know about Gen Z So Far

How Gen Z is Redefining Their World through Technology

Gen Z Is ‘Generation Digital Health’ as 62% Use Digital Patient Portals

What Self-Sampling for Women’s Health Testing Means for Labs

US News Top Recommended Over-the-Counter Health Products

Gen Z Are Not ‘Coddled.’ They Are Highly Collaborative, Self-Reliant and Pragmatic, According to New Stanford-Affiliated Research

Who is Gen Z and How Are They Shaping the Future of Health Benefits?

Generation Z: Transforming Consumer Healthcare

Gen Z’s Take on Healthcare

US Generation Z Healthcare Behaviors

Best Buy Health and Atrium Health Collaborate on a Hospital-at-Home Program, Leveraging the Electronics Retailer’s ‘Specially Trained’ Geek Squad, Omnichannel Expertise

Hospital-at-home programs like that of Atrium Health are a trend that may create new opportunities for local clinical laboratories to support physicians treating patients in the comfort of their own homes

Here is a deal that shows the hospital-at-home (HaH) movement is gaining momentum, a trend that clinical laboratories need to recognize for the opportunities it represents. Best Buy Health is partnering with 40-hospital Atrium Health in an HaH program that the healthcare system plans to scale nationally.

This newly-announced collaboration means that Charlotte, North Carolina-based Atrium Health—as partner—may include the hospitals and providers that are part of the 26-hospital Advocate Aurora Health system (now known as Advocate Health), a non-profit healthcare system that Atrium merged with in December of 2022. Providers and hospitals from North/South Carolina, Georgia, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio all could be participating in the new HaH venture.

This latest partnership between a retail giant and healthcare network demonstrates how innovation is working its way into the US healthcare system via companies not traditionally involved in direct patient care. These two organizations see an opportunity to combine their strengths to “enhance the patient experience of receiving hospital-level care at home,” according to a Best Buy news release.

Rasu Shrestha, MD

“This is the coming together of technology and empathy,” said Rasu Shrestha, MD (above), Executive Vice President and Chief Innovation and Commercialization Officer at Advocate Health, in a press release.  “We’re able to leverage the power of social workers, paramedics, nurses and physicians, but also technology to take care of the patients in their homes. We can bring forward things like remote patient monitoring and sophisticated wearable devices that capture their vital signs and combine it with the human touch—bringing it directly into our patients’ homes.” Clinical laboratories that support providers in the states Advocate Health serves may want to contact Best Buy Health. (Photo copyright: Advocate Health.)

Dispatching Geek Squads to Support Telehealth in Patients’ Homes

Best Buy Health brings to its collaboration with Atrium Health expertise in omnichannel business strategies, supply chain, and a platform to enable telehealth connectivity between patients and providers, as well as deploying specially trained Geek Squad agents for in-home support, according to an Atrium Health press release.

“With Atrium Health, we want to help enable healthcare at home for everyone. It’s getting the devices to the home when Atrium Health and the patient needs them,” said Deborah Di Sanzo, President of Best Buy Health.

Atrium Health sees Best Buy Health as a partner that can grow its program while addressing complex in-home technology that can be “tricky” to operate, Retail Dive reported.

“This transition that happens from discharging a patient from a hospital to the void of their home is the dark side of the moon: it’s disconnected, confusing, expensive. What we’ve been doing in the past is working through our hospital-at-home program and putting together a lot of these devices,” Rasu Shrestha, MD, Executive Vice President and Chief Innovation and Commercialization Officer at Advocate Health, told Fierce Healthcare.

“By working with Best Buy Health, we’re developing the seamless connected care experience and an opportunity to truly scale this,” he added.

Geek Squad

Supporting hospital-at-home services in collaboration with Atrium Health will be a new role for at least some members of the Geek Squad. “They won’t necessarily be the same team that’s doing your home theater. They will be Geek Squad agents specially trained in health to deliver specific services in the home,” said Deborah Di Sanzo, President of Best Buy Health. (Photo copyright: Best Buy.)

Best Buy’s Healthcare Acquisitions and Growth in Hospital-at-Home Programs 

In making its commitment to healthcare, Best Buy Health recently acquired companies in remote patient monitoring, medical alert services, and telehealth.

The electronics retailer’s acquisitions, according to Fierce Healthcare, include:

  • GreatCall (now known as Lively), maker of health and safety products, in 2018.
  • Critical Signal Technologies, developer of remote monitoring technologies, in 2019.
  • TytoCare, a telehealth device company, in 2019.
  • Current Health, a remote monitoring care-at-home platform, in 2021.

While Best Buy was busy acquiring healthcare companies, more HaH programs popped up across the US due in part to rising inpatient costs and providers’ need to be more efficient and resourceful.

Atrium Health started its Hospital-at-Home program in March 2020 as a way to care for COVID-19 patients. The HaH program now serves people with:

According to Healthcare Dive, Shrestha claimed Atrium’s HaH program “has served more than 6,300 patients and freed 25,000 hospital bed days since it launched in March 2020,” and produced clinical outcomes that were “the same or better” when compared to the health systems’ own hospitals, and with higher patient satisfaction scores.

“We anticipate the partnership will combine Atrium Health operational and clinical expertise with Best Buy Health’s technical and logistical expertise to allow us to scale the program to 100 patients at a time and beyond within our market,” Shrestha told Healthcare Dive. “When you put that into context, this would be the equivalent of having an additional mid-sized hospital and have a real impact on capacity in our bricks-and-mortar facilities.”

Taking Atrium’s HaH Program Nationwide

According to federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services predictions, healthcare spending will reach $6.8 trillion by 2030. This might explain why Best Buy increased its investment in healthcare at the same time its sales declined 9.3% in the fourth quarter of 2022 amid softening consumer demand for electronics, Reuters reported.

And, according to Forbes, though financial terms on the Best Buy/Atrium Health partnership were not released, additional investments are planned to “scale [Atrium’s HaH program] beyond the system.”

“We combine our omnichannel, Geek Squad, caring centers, and Current Health services to enable care,” Di Sanzo told Forbes. “At scale, no other company has the holistic combination of resources that when combined, will change the lives of consumers and enable them to heal right in their own home surrounding by the people and things they love the most. Those strengths, combined with Atrium Health’s extensive clinical expertise and deep experience leading in virtual care, will help us improve and enable care in the home for everyone.”

Clinical Laboratory Testing at Home

Clearly there are opportunities for clinical laboratories to support providers who treat patients in their homes. Lab leaders may want to reach out to colleagues who are planning HaH programs in partnership with Best Buy Health, Atrium Health, or other companies around the nation launching similar hospital-at-home programs.

As medical laboratories address staffing challenges, HaH strategies for performing blood tests and other diagnostics on patients in their homes could lead to important new revenue.   

—Donna Marie Pocius

Related Information:

Atrium Health and Best Buy Health Partner to Improve Experience When Receiving Care at Home

Atrium Health and Best Buy Health Partner to Enhance Hospital-at-Home Experience

Atrium, Best Buy Partner to Co-Develop Hospital-at-Home Programming

Hospital-at-Home Steps Out of the COVID-Era Through New Atrium Health, Best Buy Partnership

Best Buy Pushes Deeper into Healthcare with Hospital-at-Home Partnership

Atrium Health, Best Buy Ink Hospital-at-Home Deal

Best Buy, Walmart, Other Major US Retailers Tout Health Services

CMS Office of the Actuary Releases 2021-2030 Projections National Health Expenditures

Orlando Health’s New Hospital-in-the-Home Program Brings Quality Healthcare to Patients in the Comfort of Their Homes

Oregon Health and Science University Announces Program to Provide Patients with Hospital-Level Care in the Comfort of Their Home

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