This article originally appeared in the March 2023 edition of the PE GI Journal by PE GI Solutions. PE GI Solutions is now a part of SCA Health. To read the journal in its entirety, including past editions, click here.
Healthcare is a lifelong endeavor, beginning at a young age and following an individual through adolescence, adulthood, and later life. A critical component of receiving this care falls on healthcare providers and reaching out to patients at a young age to educate and schedule them for proper procedures. With younger audiences constantly shifting focus from one form of communication to another, finding the most effective avenue for communication can be difficult, handwritten letters turned into phone calls, and then emails.
For GI professionals, reaching patients of a younger generation can be difficult, as GI health is often not thought of in their daily lives, even to adults who are now eligible for their first colonoscopies. However, it is important to realize that the now eligible population is not the only group that should be educated and informed, providers must take steps to reach an even younger audience. Below are ways to reach various younger audiences to provide needed GI education and get patients scheduled for procedures.
Young Adults (Ages 18-25)
Younger adults have been the biggest drivers of change in healthcare from a patient experience standpoint. Across the industry, doctors, health systems, and insurance providers have continued to move away from physical documentation in favor of digital alternatives.
This younger age group can be most easily reached via these digital avenues, particularly social media. Some healthcare advocates are maximizing social media to spread awareness and educate young patients. Elizabeth Wachsberg, who has fought cancer multiple times since a young age, is taking advantage of video-based social platform TikTok to share her story and encourage others to receive colonoscopies.
While not a healthcare provider, Wachsberg has garnered over 5,550 followers and 84,000 total views. TikTok has quickly become one of the favorite platforms of this youngest group. With the proven efficency of videos as a platform for dispersing information, social media has become a major tool for many doctors to reach new and existing patients.
Ways to reach patients ages 18-25
- Create and develop a social media presence (Facebook, TikTok, Instagram)
- Utilize your social platforms to encourage patients to schedule procedures and provide education
- Use text message reminders over traditional print mail to get in contact with patients of this age group.
Late 20’s (Ages 26-30)
Research has shown that younger generations are more proactive regarding their health. Patients in their late 20’s have also shown themselves to be more proactive than reactive. However, like young adults, this audience can also still be easily reached via social media. However, they are more inclined to react to reminders and better absorb patient education materials.
Those who have family history with GI diseases, such as colorectal cancer (CRC), may also be more willing to schedule a procedure or visit through a phone call or text reminder.
Ways to reach patients ages 26-30
- Print mail in combination with digital reminders can increase patient retention and satisfaction.
- Emails are more effective in this age group in comparison to younger audiences.
Middle Adults (Ages 31-45)
Patients in this final age bracket are nearing the age, or are now eligible, to receive their first colonoscopy. As for older adults, it is important to regularly remind this group about the significance of receiving a colonoscopy, and its place as the “gold standard” of colorectal cancer prevention.
In this group social media becomes a less effective tool to make contact, though it should still be utilized. Unlike the above groups, email becomes a more prominent tool for contact between physicians and patients in the middle adult age range.
Ways to reach patients ages 31-45
- Maximize email and schedule reminders that can link to popular apps like Google Calendar and Apple Calendar apps.
- Phone calls are more useful for this age group
- Send educational materials about colonoscopies and encourage patients to schedule their procedures.
Physicians meet with patients of all ages but reaching those of a younger generation can be difficult. However, younger patients can remain informed and educated about their health with proper planning.