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

More People Using Ride-sharing Uber and Lyft to Get to Emergency Rooms for Medical Treatment; Might Medical Laboratories Use These Ride-sharing Services?

Clinical laboratories and pathology groups that use taxicabs to pick up patient specimens and bring them to the lab now have the option of using Uber and Lyft for this service

For decades, medical laboratories have used taxicabs to have specimens picked up from one location and driven to the lab for testing. This was a way to handle STAT specimens, for example. Now, with the rise in popularity of ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft, a burgeoning trend has emerged where people utilize ride-services rather than driving themselves to the emergency room (ER) for medical treatment. Should clinical laboratories use ride-sharing services as well for transporting specimens?

Cost and Choice Two Advantages of Ride-sharing Services

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are 130.4 million visits to ERs each year in the US and approximately 15% of those patients arrive by ambulance. But ambulance rides and EMT services can be costly.

According to, a website where visitors can find out how much average consumers paid for products and services around America, a trip to the ER by ambulance can range from $350 to $2,000 or more, depending on location, distance to the ER, and the patient’s insurance company.

Conversely, the cost for the same transportation by Uber or Lyft would typically cost less than $100.

So, price is one advantage ride-sharing services have over traditional ambulance rides. There are others. Patients also can choose which hospital they will be taken to for treatment. This option is generally not available via ambulance. Additionally, passengers know what the price of the trip with Uber or Lyft will be up front. Months can pass before patients receive a bill for a traditional ambulance ride.

But is it a good idea to call up Uber or Lyft instead of dialing 911 in a potentially life-threatening situation when moments count and emergency medical technician (EMT) skills can save lives?

To Uber or Not to Uber? That Is the Question

There are no statistics on the number of people who use ride-sharing services to go to the ER. However, many drivers in a chat room for Uber drivers acknowledged an escalation in the amount of requests for trips to the ER, usually for maladies such as broken bones, bleeding wounds, vomiting, or allergic reactions.

In a STAT article, Francis Piekut, who drives for both Uber and Lyft in Boston, described what he encountered when taking a call to transport a passenger to the ER. “They were burned and wanted to go the emergency room,” he stated. “I don’t know how bad it was, but I knew they were in pain really bad.” He took the individual where they wanted to go, as he would any other fare.

“I didn’t mind it,” Piekut added. “I was already there, and I know the ambulance costs a lot.”

However, other drivers in the chat room indicated they had or would refuse such service requests due to:

  • Liability issues;
  • Fear of getting blood or vomit in their car;
  • Knowing that they could not speed through the streets like an ambulance during an emergency; and
  • Apprehension about being stuck with a dead body if the passenger perished on the way to the ER.

Officially, Uber and Lyft recommend that people call 911 in the event of an emergency. In an ABC News article, Uber stated: “We’re grateful our service has helped people get to where they’re going when they need it most. However, it’s important to note that Uber is not a substitute for law enforcement or medical professionals. In the event of any medical emergency, we encourage people to call 911.”

The screen shot above taken from an NBC News TODAY video shows that some Uber drivers feel they are not required or prepared to substitute for an actual ride in an ambulance or EMT van. Click on the link above to watch the full video report. (Photo copyright: NBC News TODAY.)

Nevertheless, some emergency departments are looking at ride-sharing services to reduce their workload. Officials in Washington DC are researching the use of such services for “non-emergency, low-acuity” calls. These types of calls were responsible for nearly half of the city’s 911 calls in 2015, STAT reported.

“In our research, we found that many of these calls did not require an ambulance,” Doug Buchanan, Chief Communications Officer for the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services (DC FEMS), noted in the STAT article. He believes it would be beneficial if people with non-emergencies used ride-hailing services instead of an ambulance. “We would love our residents to take that initiative,” he stated.

Baltimore ER physician Mark Plaster, MD, believes there should be multiple transportation options available to patients to accommodate different types and intensities of injuries.

“I would hope that no one who needed truly urgent medical attention would take an Uber,” Plaster urged in the STAT article. “If you need medical care en route, a private car is a bad idea, because you won’t have the personnel or equipment to treat you.”

Nevertheless, Plaster can see some merit in using ride-sharing services to get to the ER.

“Rideshares don’t take ambulances out of service, and not everybody coming into the ER is in a dire situation,” he stated in the STAT article. “And the ambulance can be expensive.”

Clinical Laboratories Use Taxis to Transport Specimens

Ride-sharing services were originally established to improve on the cost and availability of taxicab services. Apparently, their faster service versus a traditional taxicab also makes them a desirable option for some individuals who need to get to an ER. But before you call Uber or Lyft to go to the ER, know that they are not prepared for true emergencies and your life could be on the line.

Clinical laboratories and pathology groups, on the other hand, have been using taxicabs for the delivery of lab specimens for decades. It is likely, then, that services like Uber and Lyft will soon be used for the transportation of lab test specimens, as well, and will continue to be utilized into the future.

—JP Schlingman

Related Information:

For a Trip to the ER, Some Are Opting for Uber over an Ambulance

Expert Warns: Take Ambulance Instead of Uber or Lyft to ER

Why Many People Are Turning to Uber over Ambulances in Emergencies

Why I Used Uber Instead of an Ambulance

Why some people are calling Uber instead of an ambulance to get to the ER

Uber to the ER?

$164 Per Mile: Surprise Ambulance Bills Are a Growing Problem and Difficult to Avoid

Lyft Plans to Expand to 100 More US Cities in 2017

Lyft vs. Uber: Just How Dominant Is Uber In the Ridesharing Business?

MedStar Health/Uber Collaboration Shows How Providers Can Use Existing Technology to Proactively Improve Patient Care; Might Be a Similar Opportunity for Medical Laboratories

Estimates are that more than three million people miss healthcare appointments each year due to transportation issues; that is true for patients with clinical lab test orders who never visit a patient service center

Patient no-shows, missed appointments, and rescheduling impact not only clinical laboratories and pathology groups but the entire healthcare community in lost time and wages. So, critical is scheduling that patient portal and electronic health record (EHR) developers focused first on implementing those technologies before moving on to billing and other aspects of health information technology (HIT). If patients don’t arrive at their appointments on time, everyone loses.

Thus, Internet and smartphone application (app) developers continue to refine and improve their scheduling software. Now, other companies outside of traditional healthcare also are capitalizing on this opportunity.

One such innovative company is Uber, a San Francisco-based transportation service company created in 2009 that enables people to order a local driver pickup via a free smartphone app. Last year, Uber began collaborating with MedStar Health, the largest healthcare provider in Maryland and Washington, DC, to help address the issue of missed appointments.

Getting Patients to Their Appoints is Half the Battle

An article in the Washington Business Journal noted that estimates place the cost of missed healthcare appointments as high as $150-billion per year in the US alone. And research published by the Journal of the Transportation Research Board suggests that up to 3.6-million people miss or delay appointments annually due to transportation issues. These exorbitant costs, combined with the necessity for patients to receive timely care, are compelling healthcare providers to develop innovative strategies to deal with missed appointments.

All of this is of interest to clinical laboratories, because a substantial number of patients who get medical laboratory test orders from the physicians never come to a patient service center to have their specimen collected. Not only does this mean that the patient (and his or her physician) won’t get the needed lab test results, but it means that the lab loses the opportunity to be paid for performing the tests that were wanted by the patients’ physicians.

“Half our battle is getting the patient to the appointment,” stated Pete Celano, Director of Consumer Health Initiatives for MedStar Institute for Innovation, Healthcare Dive reported. Celano, along with other representatives of the Uber/MedStar Health collaboration, spoke at the Connected Health Conference last December. Lindsay Elin, Director of Federal and Community Affairs at Uber and Daniel Hoffman, Chief Innovation Officer for Montgomery County in Maryland, joined Celano in discussing their shared experiences and insights with the collaboration during a session titled “Cities That Promote Health.”

“For patients who can afford it, we say ‘Please uber if and as you want to,’” Celano stated. “It could be less expensive to go to Georgetown University Hospital for example on an uber from most places than to park there, if we even have parking spots available.”

Uber/MedStar collaboration may be especially beneficial for patients with disabilities

The Uber/MedStar collaboration may be especially beneficial for patients with disabilities who want to use the Uber to get to healthcare appointments. The Uber Accessibility website features a host of helpful instructions and tools to get patients started using Uber. (Photo copyright: ABC News.)

In the past, MedStar utilized local taxi services to diminish the amount of missed appointments. Celano stated that such services could be cost-prohibitive, cumbersome, and unable to meet the needs of patients who required assistance. Now, Internet technology, such as smartphone apps, can be used by providers in innovative and clever ways to improve the patient experience.

That’s the thinking behind encouraging patients to request an Uber driver for transportation to medical appointments. The pick-up is easily requested through a free smartphone app. Healthcare providers may also arrange and manage transportation for patients who do not own a smartphone. Patients also can order an Uber driver online by selecting the Uber icon on MedStar’s homepage.

The Power of Going Door-to-Door

The partnership has been successful. Celano stated that the cost of an Uber trip is about 60% of the cost of a cab in the DC area and patients can arrange for a car inside an hour time frame. MedStar also can cover the Uber transportation fee for patients with medical and financial needs.

“People ask me how it’s going and I say it’s all about the power of going door-to-door,” Celano stated in the Healthcare Dive article. He added that keeping scheduled appointment times can result in better outcomes for patients as well.

A CrossChx report titled, “The Cost of Now Shows” notes that the most common reasons for patients to miss scheduled appointments are:

  • Lack of transportation;
  • Amount of time between scheduling and the actual appointment;
  • Emotional obstacles; and
  • Believing that medical professionals do not respect patients.

Elin stated that other healthcare providers have expressed interest in utilizing Uber for patient transportation and that Uber has established a team to work solely with healthcare providers. Additionally, Uber’s uberASSIST program trains drivers to work with riders who may require specialized attention, such as senior citizens and the disabled.

“We firmly believe [that] with partnerships with healthcare providers, senior centers, [and] transit agencies we can do even more and reach more people,” Elin stated.

Taking Proactive Steps to Better Patient Care

The Uber/MedStar collaboration shows how internet technology and smartphone apps can be used by healthcare providers in clever ways to improve patient experience. Additionally, it should be understood as a market development that shows how a healthcare provider, attempting to deliver integrated care, recognizes that it must take proactive steps to get certain patients with chronic diseases to their appointments to manage them proactively and help prevent an acute event.

Clinical laboratory leaders should see this story in both dimensions. And then use those insights to identify how they might collaborate with high-tech companies to deliver lab services in different ways that help achieve better patient outcomes.

—JP Schlingman


Related Information:

‘It’s Door-to-Door’: MedStar, Uber Detail Partnership’s Progress

Insight: Tackling Healthcare’s Costly Problem of Missed Appointments

Why MedStar Health Just Teamed Up with Uber

Accessibility at Uber

Cities That Promote Health

MedStar Health Pays for Patients in Need to Get Uber Rides to Appointments

Cost-Effectiveness of Access to Nonemergency Medical Transportation: Comparison of Transportation and Health Care Costs and Benefits

Multi-channel Smartphone Spectrometer Enables Clinical Laboratory Testing Quickly and Accurately in Remote Regions

Emulating Uber and Lyft, New Phlebotomy Company Wants to Bring Innovation to the Way Clinical Pathology Laboratory Specimens Are Collected and Transported

In just eight months, Iggbo claims to have 4,000 phlebotomists participating and is now operating in 18 states

Even as Uber and Lyft are bringing a new business model to the taxicab business, a group of entrepreneurs in Virginia want to do the same thing to the phlebotomy services offered by clinical laboratories. Since launching this service in January, the new phlebotomy company operates in 18 states.

The company is called Iggbo. It describes itself as an on-demand anytime/anywhere blood draw service and hopes to streamline the way blood samples move from patients to medical laboratories as the start-up looks to revolutionize phlebotomy the way Uber disrupted taxi service.

Based in Richmond, VA, Iggbo is introducing the sharing economy to the laboratory test collection process, a move that could benefit independent clinical laboratories and pathology groups that join Iggbo’s growing network of labs and independent phlebotomists. (more…)