Steps to Successful Patient Engagement for Each Generation  

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In today's digital era, a patient engagement platform is vital in transforming healthcare delivery. As technology advances, it becomes increasingly important to understand how different generations interact with these tools.  

Each generation brings unique perspectives, expectations, and preferences when it comes to utilizing patient engagement technology. This eBook will explore the attitudes and behaviors of various generations, define their characteristics, discuss how patient engagement tools can meet their expectations, and emphasize the significance of healthcare providers adapting to these expectations to ensure patient satisfaction and retention. 

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2023-EB-Generational Differences Final_Page_01

Chapter 1

Understanding Generations in the Digital Age

To understand how patient engagement tools resonate with different generations, let's first examine their distinct characteristics and digital behaviors: 

Silent Generation 

The Silent Generation, comprised of individuals born between 1928 and 1945, grew up in an analog world. This generation often values face-to-face interactions and personalized care. Although many in this age group usually prefer to receive conventional mail and phone calls, they are open to technology. According to Norton, 63% of the Silent Generation say that going online increases communication, and 60% use email.  

Although the most traditional of all generations, the Silent Generation's willingness to engage with technology means that they shouldn’t be overlooked when offering patient engagement tools. By prioritizing personalized attention and convenience, healthcare providers can effectively bridge the digital divide and engage the Silent Generation. 

Baby Boomers 

Born between 1946 and 1964, Baby Boomers witnessed significant technological advancements, including touch-tone phones, fax machines, and the advent of the personal computer. Ninety-four percent of Baby Boomers own a cell phone, 64% own a desktop computer, and 43% own a laptop computer. Baby Boomers will research and use third-party comparisons to find healthcare providers. 

Baby Boomers are looking for high-quality care and value provider-patient relationships. In addition, they are becoming more tech-savvy and are increasingly embracing patient engagement tools. They appreciate features that empower them to actively participate in their healthcare decisions. 

"Older adults are the fastest-growing patient portal account owner group."

Generation X  

Generation X (Gen X), born between 1965 and 1980, does the best job of straddling between the analog and digital eras. They were early adopters of technology and value efficiency and convenience. They often juggle multiple responsibilities and seek technology that simplifies their lives. Of patients with portal accounts, Gen X patients are already adept at using portals for accessing lab results (77%), sending messages and scheduling appointments (41%), and requesting medication refills (37%).  

Healthcare providers can build stronger relationships and promote long-term patient loyalty by offering them a multi-pronged patient engagement strategy, allowing patients from this generation to choose the technology tools that are most effective for them. 

Two young girls looking picture on the mobile


Born between 1981 and 1996, Millennials are the first generation to grow up with widespread internet and digital technology access. They are highly proficient in using digital devices such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets. This generation seeks instant gratification and is accustomed to the convenience of online services. 

Millennials want to be connected through technology and value personalized, convenient experiences – making a comprehensive patient engagement strategy important for attracting and retaining these patients.  

Generation Z 

Generation Z (Gen Z), born between 1997 and 2012, is fully immersed in a world with internet, smartphones, and apps. They are not used to waiting in line (preferring to use an app to order ahead) and have different ideas of privacy, trust, and relationships in the digital world.   

This generation is the most dissatisfied with traditional care and only 55% of have a primary care provider. They value convenience of a location or channel more than any other group and have completely different ideas around obtaining a service – they prefer the efficiency of digital interactions over time-consuming and inconvenient manual processes.  


Chapter 2

Meeting the Digital Needs of Each Generation: Before the Visit

To remain competitive and retain patients, healthcare providers must adapt to different generations' evolving expectations and digital habits. Failing to meet these expectations may lead to patient dissatisfaction, decreased engagement, and even patient attrition. 

Here are the ways you can use technology to cater to each generation during the pre-visit stage of the patient journey.

Patient Portal 

Silent Generation

This generation can benefit from a patient portal with a user-friendly interface and simple registration procedures. Proxy access for family members is a feature many families of the Silent Generation find useful.  

Baby Boomers

To meet the needs of this generation, consider a tool that makes reading test results easier with visual aids that show normal vs. out-of-normal threshold results and use a solution that makes it simple to order prescription refills. Older Boomers will also appreciate proxy access for their children involved in their care, much like the Silent Generation.  

Gen X

This generation is curious and actively seeks information, making them very open to portal use. Offering a patient portal that offers seamless appointment management, secure patient messaging, online bill payment, lab results, and prescription refill requests aligns with their preferences.  


 This generation is the most likely to research symptoms online before visiting a physician. In addition to offering access to health information, online scheduling, secure messaging, and lab results, consider adding educational information about common symptoms and conditions to your portal so it can become a reference for these patients.  

Gen Z

An efficient portal app is a must for Gen Z. Additionally, this generation expects portals to be a true digital hub for all their interactions with a provider and will not tolerate portals that are frequently down or have broken links.  

millennial using online patient scheduling

Online patient self-scheduling 

Silent Generation

Scheduling tools that don't require patients to have a portal account can make it convenient for families to schedule appointments for their loved ones.  

Baby Boomers

Since Baby Boomers will research healthcare providers online, consider an appointment tool that sits on third-party websites like Google Business Listings.  

Generation X

To cater to Gen X's mindset for efficiency and convenience, offer online scheduling tools to schedule visits in real-time. That way, they can schedule an appointment and move on.  


 Millennials have more internet-connected devices than any other generation. It’s essential that appointment scheduling solutions are accessible from multiple formats to cater to this demographic.   

Gen Z

Sixty-one percent of Gen Z will use online appointment scheduling, making this functionality critical for attracting new patients in this age group. 

Chapter 3

Meeting the Digital Needs of Each Generation: During the Visit

Here are the ways you can use technology to cater to each generation during the visit stage of the patient journey.

Digital patient intake 

Silent Generation

Many older patients may need help filling in forms. Using a digital patient intake system that can be used independently, without needing an account or log in, can make it convenient for caretakers to help patients fill out forms, even if they won't be coming to the visit.  

Baby Boomers

 Like all generations, Baby Boomers appreciate convenience. Using a digital intake solution allows these patients to fill out forms at home where they are comfortable and can take time to complete them. Text reminders to fill out paperwork can help increase this generation’s use of digital intake. 

Gen X

Since many Gen X patients are juggling busy schedules with work and family, offering digital patient intake allows them to spend less time in their provider’s waiting room filling out forms – which makes it easier to fit appointments, especially new patient appointments, into their days. Also, balance reminders linked to the intake process help them pay outstanding bills before the visit, streamlining workflows and saving patients still more time in the office.  


For this generation, paper forms are considered a significant inconvenience. They expect to fill out forms online and any other experience could negatively influence their perception of the entire encounter. Ensure your intake solution can adapt to multiple formats so you can offer them the ability to complete digital forms via their preferred method of mobile phone, tablet, or computer. 

Gen Z

This generation is the most comfortable with a completely automated digital check-in process and will enjoy using optical character recognition (OCR) tools to save time.  

family using full integrated telehealth


Silent Generation

Although this generation values face-to-face interactions, the convenience of telehealth may be attractive to those that want to include family members in their visits. Look for a tool that patients can join easily, without creating an account or logging in.  

Baby Boomers

As this population ages, the need for chronic care will increase, and many patients will consider telehealth a convenient option over in-person visits. A solution that mimics the flow of in-person encounters will help Baby Boomers feel comfortable seeing providers virtually.  

Gen X

Telehealth is an excellent option for busy Gen X. Look for a solution that makes scheduling and joining a virtual visit easy and convenient. Telehealth that integrates with other time-saving tools, like patient intake, will satisfy this generation's demands for convenience and efficiency.  

"74% of Millennials would prefer a virtual over an in-person visit."


Many Millennials view going to the doctor as a chore, with about half only visiting a doctor once a year. 74% of Millennials would prefer a virtual over an in-person visit. Telehealth's convenience can motivate these patients to seek medical care when they need it. 

Gen Z

 Of all the generations, Gen Z will take the most advantage of telehealth, with over 14% reporting they use telehealth exclusively. Promoting telehealth is a critical pathway to attracting and retaining these patients.  

Chapter 4

Meeting the Digital Needs of Each Generation: After the Visit

Here are ways patient engagement tools can be used to cater to each generation during the post-visit portion of their patient journey: 

Population health tools 

Silent Generation

Population health tools that offer educational material can help facilitate communication between healthcare providers and Silent Generation patients and their families, fostering a better understanding of symptoms and treatment plans.  

Baby Boomers

 This generation has much to gain from helping their provider monitor chronic conditions outside of the in-person visit. Population health tools that use patient-reported outcomes (PROs) to trigger next steps and education campaigns can empower Baby Boomers to make informed decisions about their health and well-being.  

Gen X

 Since this generation is tech-savvy, they are likely already using tools to help them track their health, such as apps or devices that monitor their weight, blood sugar levels, heart rate, and more. Offering a tool to communicate PROs to their provider will allow them to control chronic conditions in-between visits before an acute episode occurs – positioning them to better juggle their life commitments.  

"100% of Boomers said they had used the internet to search for a healthcare provider"


Because they are so comfortable with technology, Millennials are in an excellent position to benefit from population health management tools and education. Consider using technology to create campaigns around metrics, such as BMI scores, to help Millennials better understand and manage their health.  

Gen Z

Gen Z has the most holistic view of health. They are most likely to respond to information about nutrition, fitness, sleep, and stress management. Automated population health campaigns targeted at this demographic can create engaged patients by not only delivering information in the way Gen Z is most comfortable but also supporting Gen Z’s desire to “be armed with information from a trusted expert who can guide them toward the right decision.”  

Young woman looking at online review

The Power of Online Reviews for Boomers, Millennials, and Gen Z 

Online reviews have become a crucial resource for all generations to find healthcare, but they’ve become particularly relevant for Boomers, Millennials, and Gen Z. 

According to a recent Press Ganey study 

  • 100% of Boomers said they had used the internet to search for a healthcare provider 
  • 81.4% of Millennials and Gen Z said the same 

All three generations stated that the number one choice for healthcare searches was Google, with hospital websites coming in second.  

Use automation to boost online ratings and reviews 

Another poll found that 72% of patients using online ratings preferred providers with at least a four out of five-stars. The challenge for many organizations is how to motivate satisfied patients to leave a positive star rating and review – that’s where digital patient surveys can help. 

Smart patient surveys can reach out to patients after their visit to gauge satisfaction and act according to responses. Patients that indicate they’ve had a positive experience can prompt a patient to leave a review on Google or any website where an organization is trying to build an online reputation. Surveys that indicate a patient has had a negative experience can trigger an alert to administrative staff notifying them of an unsatisfactory rating, so action can be made to rectify the situation.  

Chapter 5

The Importance of Adapting to Expectations

Adapting to the expectations of different generations is not just a matter of preference; it is vital for healthcare providers to retain market share and ensure patient satisfaction. According to a recent patient consumer survey, 79% want to use technology to manage their health care.  

This same survey found that 69% of patients would consider switching providers for more convenient services, even if they were happy with the care from their current physician. These statistics highlight the direct correlation between meeting patient expectations and patient retention. 

Moreover, failing to meet patient expectations may lead to negative outcomes. For example, a missed opportunity for online appointment scheduling can result in patients putting off making an appointment, potentially delaying an important diagnosis or becoming non-compliant with treatment. Lack of automated reminders increases the likelihood of no-show appointments, which not only leads to gaps in provider schedules, but can also mean an interruption in patient care.  

User-friendly patient engagement technology is a powerful tool that empowers patients, enhances communication, and fosters better health outcomes. By embracing and integrating these tools into their practice, healthcare providers not only can position themselves as leaders in patient-centered care but also create streamlined workflows that allow more time to be devoted to managing their patients’ health.  

"69% of patients would consider switching providers for more convenient services, even if they were happy with the care from their current physician"

Chapter 6

Conclusion: The Role of Patient Engagement Technology

In today's rapidly evolving healthcare landscape, understanding and meeting the expectations of different generations is crucial for healthcare providers. The adoption of patient engagement technology plays a pivotal role in delivering exceptional care experiences and securing a position as trusted healthcare partners in the digital age. 

By recognizing the unique characteristics and preferences of each generation, healthcare providers can effectively cater to their needs and bridge the gap between generations.  

In recap, the Silent Generation, although traditionally inclined, is open to technology and values personalized attention. Baby Boomers, who witnessed significant technological advancements, seek high-quality care and value provider-patient relationships. Gen X values efficiency and convenience, while Millennials prioritize personalized and convenient experiences. Generation Z, fully immersed in the digital world, expects efficient and convenient digital interactions. 

Woman on cell phone checking medical records

It's critical that healthcare providers leverage patient engagement tools with a well-rounded set of features that can cater to the needs of each generation. Some of the key things to look for, include: 

  • A user-friendly patient portal that provides personalized experiences, seamless appointment management, secure messaging, and access to health information.  
  • Online patient self-scheduling that offers convenience, especially for busy generations like Gen X and Millennials. 
  • Patient reminders that can be tailored to different communication preferences and provide additional information to enhance the patient experience.  
  • Digital patient intake that simplifies the paperwork process and reduces time in the waiting room. 
  • A convenient virtual visit solution that emulates an in-office visit. 
  • Population health tools that empower patients to actively manage their health by providing educational materials and facilitating communication with healthcare providers. 

Adapting to the expectations of different generations is not only essential for patient satisfaction but also for retaining market share. Failing to meet patient expectations may lead to negative outcomes and missed opportunities for care.  

By embracing patient engagement solutions and tailoring them to the distinct needs of each generation, healthcare providers can thrive in the digital age, deliver exceptional care experiences, and position themselves as trusted healthcare partners. 


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