By Kim Bassett
Imagine growing up in a world where Google has always existed. Where Facebook is as much of a staple as Nickelodeon or the Johnny Carson Show. A world where terrorists and 9/11 are reality, but also a history lesson, told and explained to them like D-Day and Hiroshima was to older generations.
Generation Z is born between the mid-1990s to the early 2000s and make up 25% of the U.S. population — larger than both the Baby Boomer and Millennial generations, respectively. Those born at the start of this generation are entering the workforce, bringing with them a combination of their Millennial parents’ ideals and their own, shaped by living in a technology driven world at a time of national insecurity with war on-going and terrorist attacks being sensationalized in the media.
This generation is uniquely positioned to change health care from both the provider and consumer side.
- Technology. Generation Z is the first generation born after the advent of Internet and social media. They are true digital natives, growing up with smart phones, tablets and other devices connected to the entire world. It’s akin to a child growing up in a home with two languages. They not only learn both languages much earlier, but also how to leverage the knowledge seamlessly into their everyday life.
- Consumers – Because of this, we can safely assume that as consumers they will demand healthcare digitally, enhanced care options available online versus the traditional care model of in-person visits.
- Providers – On the healthcare side, we will see new software programs created to meet their own demands.
- Entrepreneurship. Millennials created this trend, making great strides toward changing workplace culture, creating a more flexible work environment, community service, work-life balance. Generation Z will take it to the next level, evolving it further, not letting their predecessors efforts go by the wayside.
- Consumers – Gen Z, as a consumer, will demand access to healthcare, even though they don’t work in a traditional employer-providing healthcare environment. And because they are seamlessly connected through social media, you can be assured the entire world will hear their thoughts on this issue.
- Providers – Not one to pass up a business idea, Generation Z will create new business opportunities to not only fulfill their own healthcare needs, but also form businesses and product lines that will help their older family members in the Millennial, Gen X and Baby Boomer generations. Generation Z carries over their Millennial predecessors trait in their need to make the world a better place.
- Diversity. Generation Z is the first generation to be gender non-specific. They are growing up a world where it’s commonplace for people to change gender and marry people of the same-sex. This acceptance of all types of lifestyles will — and already has — change the landscape for healthcare.
- Consumers – Gen Z will expect healthcare providers to treat non-specific gender roles and relationships as equally as the traditional male-female role. They will continue to push for acceptance and change in the way that healthcare is presented.
- Providers – In healthcare facilities and other workplaces, gender roles will be an on-going evolution as HR departments and employers struggle to wrap their arms around this changing aspect in our culture. This acceptance will become paramount to the happiness of Generation Z in the workplace, much like the issue of flexibility and work-life balance is to the Millennials.
As the largest generation to exist, Generation Z is becoming equipped to move our culture forward in all aspects — economically, socially, and technologically. So before dismissing or scoffing at the seemingly radical ideas of this burgeoning generation, remember that they hold your future in their hands and perhaps — with a little guidance and encouragement from their predecessors — that future will be the best yet.