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How U.S. Demographic Trends Are Reshaping Healthcare Now and Forever – and Why That Matters

Among the many powerful lessons we’ve learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is the further unearthing of healthcare disparities, from the very old patient to the young and across ethnic, racial, and economic lines.

No matter where you are in the United States, America’s citizenry is changing. Millennials are now the largest adult generation in the U.S., followed by Generation X, and the aging, over-65 population is growing at an equally unprecedented rate. As the U.S. Census Bureau notes, the number of Americans 65 and older is projected to be 95 million by 2060 — nearly double what it was in 2018. That will put this generation’s share of the country’s total population at 23%, up from 16%. In addition, America is seeing an exponential growth in ethnic, racial, and immigrant populations, which leads to a whole new world of challenges for healthcare systems as they seek to understand the unique needs of patients and consumers.

The Importance of Diverse Healthcare Demographics

A patient population mix that is more diverse could mean:

  • A need for more hyper-focused and tailored messaging that considers not just their needs but also how that community likes to be spoken to/with
  • Additional digital tools, such as translated website and blog content, multilingual chatbot and live voice assistance, and translated or captioned video
  • Paid digital marketing campaigns that are multisegmented, connecting to diverse audiences with targeted design, content, and messaging on the platforms where they are more likely to see your campaigns and more likely to convert

Even in areas that are less ethnically and racially diverse, the growth of both millennial and aging populations is proving to be both a clinical and marketing challenge. How do you target both of these groups effectively when their wants, needs, and digital engagement can sometimes be polar opposites?

As a healthcare marketer, I have worked for the past 20 years for large healthcare systems, hospitals, and health plans that have faced the complexity of engaging diverse consumers in their market. Those that have truly excelled at connecting with these audiences take the time and energy to learn more about them and develop strategies and content specifically for them. These systems improved the quality of healthcare for these consumers and expanded their engagement, acquisition, and retention. Going further, they adapted some of those learnings to apply to all of their marketing strategies.

Speaking as an African American woman, I have seen how targeted healthcare marketing of African Americans has positively affected community health, improved relations between health organizations and the community, and has even led to healthcare innovations and expansion of programs. When an organization dedicates itself to truly understanding the variations within its patient body, and when it really “spoke” to me as a healthcare consumer from my background, it showed that the organizers respected and valued me as a patient, and I developed both trust and confidence in the system’s delivery of care.

Even if today your consumer population is less diverse or continues to show the same demographic patterns, the research truly shows that a wave of new and diverse population growth will affect your healthcare organization soon. This wave will have deep ramifications for the field of healthcare beyond the concerns of healthcare providers. Health insurers are digging deeper into understanding how social determinants of health impact the overall health of their members and how preventive care can help to reduce the cost of care and the number of insurance claims paid annually.

Over the next five blog articles, I want to share with you key insights about the following consumer audiences:

  • English as a second language and immigrant populations
  • Latino/Hispanic consumers
  • African American consumers
  • Aging audience (over 65) members – including Medicare recipients
  • Millennials
  • LGBTQ+ consumers

SEE MORE: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) in Healthcare

Join me in these future articles – starting with Fighting Truth and Mythology: Educating Black Patients About COVID-19 – to learn the barriers or opportunities to engage with each audience the digital marketing tactics you can use to best engage and motivate these unique audiences in their healthcare journeys, and contact our experts today.

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Chandra Craven

Chandra M. Craven is a Healthcare Digital Strategist who partners with national healthcare marketers to meet the patient consumer's demands and needs. Through her work, she ensures every type of patient's voices and needs are heard and included within communications and marketing efforts.

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