teenagers sitting on steps using phone

Gen Z Patients and How to Cultivate Them


What this generation wants and how eye care providers can offer it

Not all generations are alike, especially when it comes to health care. Generation Z — young adults who were born in 1996 or after — have some specific considerations. These young adults, the oldest of whom are currently 23, are more racially and ethnically diverse than any previous generation, more educated, politically aware, and tech-savvy. Here are some specific factors to consider for doctors wanting to better attract and serve Gen Z patients. 

‘Digital natives’ who grew up with technology

It should come as no surprise that Gen Z patients are very comfortable with technology. They are the first generation to essentially be born with the Internet and smartphones. Because of this, they are the most likely patient population to choose virtual healthcare, according to Becker’s Hospital Review. A recent survey found that 41% of Gen Z prefers telemedicine over in-person experiences, compared to 33% of Millennials and 9% of Baby Boomers.

Gen Z grew up with technology and expects it from their doctors; 41% prefer telemedicine over in-person patient experiences.  

Gen Z patients also want more technology to be integrated into the patient experience. Hospitals and health systems are piloting new efforts to keep these patients engaged, including interactive screens in the lobby and Amazon Alexa devices in inpatient rooms, reported Becker’s.

You can leverage digital tools like Rendia’s patient education videos in your practice’s waiting room, as well as Exam Mode and Outcome Simulator in your exam rooms. Rendia is also a great fit for virtual visits to visually fly through anatomy with patients and show them potential outcomes of various procedures like LASIK, for example.

All about convenience and education

Gen Z was raised on social media and apps, and they expect information and services to be available to them on-demand and in multiple formats. “Convenience is paramount for this new generation — so much so that they are often willing to forgo a personal relationship with their health care provider,” reported Fierce Healthcare. Practices looking to attract these young adults will benefit from having a social media presence and offer features like online appointment scheduling and text reminders. 

Your young adult patients do their own research, but also want to partner with trusted health providers who can guide them toward the best decisions for them. 

However, while Gen Z patients do value convenience, they also want to partner with trusted health advisers. These young patients will do their own research and come to their doctors with data and questions, according to Fierce Healthcare. “These individuals want to be armed with information from a trusted expert who can guide them toward the right decision.”

“The last thing you want is for the patient or their parents to go home and read about something that you should have talked about,” optician Danielle Crull told Invision magazine. “This generation can look things up in the car before they even leave your parking lot. And if they just saw you and you never bothered to mention something about blue light, or ultraviolet light, or anti-reflective or photochromics, or anti-fatigue (if it applies) then you will lose their trust completely.”

Be proactive about sending Gen Z patients educational videos before and after their appointments, and making a point to ask them if they have questions or concerns during their visit. 

Eye care and Gen Z

When it comes to eye care, Gen Z patients also have specific differences. Myopia is a growing concern for this age group, and rates have increased significantly during the pandemic due to prolonged exposure to screens and less time spent outdoors. Eye doctors need to educate young patients and their parents about treatment options for myopia as well as risks for a number of vision-threatening conditions if the condition is not managed properly over time.

Most parents don’t realize that school screenings are not sufficient to properly diagnose and treat these conditions, since these miss about 60 percent of children. In your patient outreach and education, emphasize the need for a comprehensive eye exam and the frequency you recommend. 

Gen Z patients have specific eye care needs. Glasses are popular and even trendy among this age group.

Fortunately, Generation Z does not have the same aversion to wearing glasses that older generations may have. In fact, they may consider glasses part of their personal style. “It’s different now than when I was a kid,” said Nathan Bonilla-Warford, O.D., to Vision Monday. “Glasses are so popular and trendy and big and bold. Right now, I’m getting more kids who are disappointed they don’t need glasses than those who are upset that they do.”

And according to Andrea Thau, O.D., Gen Z are also more receptive to eye care overall than older patients. “These patients tend to be more serious and responsible than past generations with regard to compliance,” she said. “They are more open to trying contact lenses and very interested in the fashion side of eyewear.”

Get tips from our eBook on how to reach your Gen Z patients by strengthening your online presence. 


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