Reaching Younger Patients

Posted Mar 28, 2023 under:

Keeping with the times

From live TikTok Q&As to traditional email campaigns, methods used to connect with patients of different age brackets must meet them where they live. Learn more about these different approaches below.

Doctor talking to adult patient

Vary your strategy

As communication methods evolve, reaching patients in a digital world requires creativity, planning, and insight. 

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.

This article was updated on January 30th, 2024 to reflect current information.  

Healthcare represents a lifelong journey requiring ongoing patient education and care coordination from an early age. As preferred means of communication evolve – from handwritten letters to emails and texting – providers must constantly adapt their outreach strategies to ensure messaging resonates across younger demographics. 

This proves especially critical for GI health. As patients qualify for invasive procedures like colonoscopies for the first time, GI issues remain under-addressed, with limited youth awareness. Creative, multi-channel outreach that meets younger audiences where they are can provide opportunities to increase screenings and promote GI health education. 

Continue reading for several ways to reach various younger audiences: 

Young Adults (Ages 18-25) 

Young adults, or “Gen Z,” have grown up in an era of technology and connectivity, making social platforms and digital peer voices primary sources for discovery and influence. Healthcare providers can proactively leverage these social channels, establishing vibrant presences on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat. Effective content strategies on these platforms might involve short-form videos on key GI health topics, bite-size explanations, engaging infographics, and live Q&A sessions with healthcare professionals.  

YouTube is another excellent platform to reach younger audiences on GI health. Out of a massive user base of 2.7 billion, 56.66% of YouTube is comprised of Millennials and Gen Z, according to social media strategist and keynote speaker Neal Schaffer. For example, YouTube channel Gastro Girl, run by a board-certified gastroenterologist, has more than 1800 subscribers – many in their early to late twenties. Gastro Girl covers everything from gut health and liver disease to colorectal cancer (CRC), helping spread awareness of GI conditions and the necessity of screening.  

Ways to reach patients ages 18-25  

  • Maintain an active social media presence with short, eye-catching health content. 
  • Host virtual live Q&A events through TikTok and Instagram, where students can ask anonymous health questions. 
  • Utilize social platforms to encourage patients to schedule procedures. 
  • Share links, appointment reminders, testing information, and other communications through texts, social media telehealth ads, and social media DMs (direct messages).  

Late 20’s (Ages 26-30) 

As patients in their late 20s transition into demanding careers and independent living, managing personal healthcare coordination becomes an increasing priority, though made challenging with packed schedules that juggle work, family, and friends.  

While social media remains relevant to this age bracket, they best absorb medical guidance and appointment details through convenient digital channels already integrated into daily routines, from email calendars synced to their phones to medication notifications via text. Those with a family history of GI conditions like colorectal cancer (CRC) may be especially motivated to book screenings when prompted through personalized reminder messages noting their higher risk factors. 

Ways to reach patients ages 26-30 

  • Print mail and digital reminders with integrated QR codes can increase patient retention and satisfaction. 
  • Emails are more effective in this age group than in younger audiences. 
  • Incentivize integrating wellness apps, such as the Optum My Wellbeing App, that assess how patients’ daily habits affect their health.  

Middle Adults (Ages 31-45) 

As patients enter their middle adulthood, colonoscopy screenings become vital for preventative GI health and early detection of conditions like CRC. As for older adults, it is essential to regularly remind this group about both the importance of receiving a colonoscopy and its place as the “gold standard” of colorectal cancer prevention. 

Social media is a less effective communication tool for this group, though it should still be utilized. Overall, emails, phone calls, and integrated QR codes are the most effective means of contact between physicians and patients in the middle adult age range. 

Ways to reach patients ages 31-45 

  • Maximize email and schedule reminders that link to popular apps like Google Calendar
  • Phone calls are more effective for this age group. 
  • Send educational materials about colonoscopies through email, text, and direct mail that encourage patients to schedule preventative procedures promptly.  

Connecting patients across life stages demands communication as dynamic as the technologies each generation embraces. While reaching different age groups about GI health can be challenging, bridging these divides means meeting them where they are – on an app, in the mail, or through a text.  

Resources:

Gastro Girl: https://www.youtube.com/c/GastroGirl 

Neal Schaffer: https://nealschaffer.com/youtube-statistics/#:~:text=7.-,Targeting%20Millennials%20and%20Gen%20Z%3A%20YouTube’s%2056.66%25%20Young%20Audience,often%20grew%20up%20with%20it

Optum My Wellbeing: https://www.uhcglobal.com/en/resources/member-resources/mywellbeing 

Google Calendar: https://workspace.google.com/products/calendar/?hl=en-US 

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