Generations and Healthcare: Health Coaching for the Ages

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

According to a recent study from Gordian Health Solutions, members of different generations not only prefer to access their healthcare information in different ways, but they respond differently to health coaching programs.

Some of the report’s most interesting findings were:

  • While seniors 65 years and older and referred to as “The Greatest Generation” are concerned about accuracy of health information on the Web, some estimates show they outdo teens in time spent online.
  • It is difficult to give incentives to the Baby Boomer generation, those born between 1946 and 1964, to participate in health coaching programs.
  • Generation X (“Next Generation”), born between 1965 and 1976, are constantly communicating via cell phone and are always up-to-date on the latest and most fashionable technologies and accessories. They need health coaches to be available through a variety of modes, including telephone and Internet.
  • Generation Y, the “Millennials” born between 1979 and 1999, are impatient and “crave positive feedback.” Their health coaching programs should reflect that by being fun, easy to use and always available. The report also suggests offering social networking options within health coaching programs targeted at this generation.
  • Realizing that people from different generations require different approaches to healthcare and health coaching, Gordian offers “iCoaching” services, based on the needs of the individual.

    “In order for a health coaching program to be effective, it must be truly personalized and flexible in its delivery, to address consumer preferences,” said Roger Reed, executive vice president for market operations at Gordian.

    And the differences do not stop with the generations. According to Scott Schroeder, president and CEO of Cohorts, it’s not as easy as saying that marketing to Generation X should be done consistently across the entire generation.

    “Our belief at Cohorts is that knowing customers is a critical first step in effective marketing programs,” said Schroeder. “There’s much diversity within that segment. It is important to understand how to reach each of those segments because there are differences that are important to marketers. There are certain things that healthcare providers might find helpful in reaching out to these distinct segments.”

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