Healthcare is failing to communicate with Gen Z – Just 3% receive social media communication despite being overwhelming preference.
UK Healthcare Providers Failing to Engage with Gen Z Patients
New research revealed by LovedBy highlights a concern for UK healthcare providers – their inability to successfully engage with Gen Z patients, particularly those with chronic health conditions, across the NHS and private practices.
LovedBy’s study of over 1,000 Gen Z people in the UK found that outdated ways of communicating with young patients contributes to a glaring disconnect between patient and provider. Just 3% of Gen Z had been communicated to through social media when interacting with a healthcare provider (NHS or private), whilst 46% had received telephone calls and 33% had received written letters – which no longer marries up to the needs of the modern young person. When ranking ways of being communicated to about something that is important to see and properly understand, social media (WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok etc) emerged as a clear favourite for 47%.
How Effective Engagement Can Support Healthcare
Effective engagement is essential in supporting the health of young people, especially those living with life-long chronic conditions like Type 1 Diabetes or Asthma – and the adolescent years are vital in learning how to live with one. LovedBy’s research found that nearly half (47%) of Gen Z feel that young people with a chronic condition are not set up well to manage their condition by healthcare services. When further exploring the feelings of participants that were frustrated with healthcare in general, 58% felt they simply aren’t listened to, which rises to a staggering 72% in patients identifying as female, highlighting the role of effective communication in the problem.
The issue is an important one to get right. In the UK there are currently over 28,000 children and young people with type 1 Diabetes, which costs the NHS £23.6m per year in follow-up appointments alone*. And recent figures show that more than 1 in 3 young people with the condition need additional psychological support, too.
Alice Spilman, a student living with Type 1 Diabetes and member of LovedBy’s Gen Z Board, says:
“If you want to have an impact on young people today, you need to talk to them in their language. And this isn’t just about vocabulary, it’s the way in which you talk to them and the platforms you use. No young person wants to sit in front of a healthcare professional and be talked at like they’re just a number, or listen to all the things they’re doing wrong. This causes young patients to switch off, and rarely ends in positive change. Yet these teenage years are so important for young people to learn how to live with these life-long conditions.”
Relatable Content for Gen Z Suffering With Health Issues
Alice is a member of the ‘Gen Z board’ formed by health technology company LovedBy, as part of a potential solution to this problem. LovedBy creates products to help Gen Z patients manage chronic conditions, and works with the board regularly to gain insights and feedback as part of their product design process. The board includes a mix of global TikTok and Instagram content creators, all with chronic conditions themselves. Alice was invited to join after expressing her frustration with current healthcare systems on a Facebook support group.
The research marks the launch of the ‘Nudg with Dexcom’ platform directly to young people in the UK living with Type 1 Diabetes, via their besties page and their parents page Dexcom manufactures world-leading, wearable, continuous glucose monitoring devices as a small patch on the arm. LovedBy’s software, ‘Nudg’, reads that data and translates it into meaningful, relatable content (about 8-30 seconds long) that are sent as nudg’s directly to the users social media feeds and WhatsApp messages. The nudges are easy for the young patient to understand, and help to guide them towards better outcomes for their condition. LovedBy’s Gen Z board was pivotal in the co-design and development of the product.