Why this orthopedic leader thinks millennials are changing care delivery

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The needs and preferences of millennials may be the catalyst for change in healthcare delivery. 

Louis Levitt, MD, vice president of the Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics in Bethesda, Md., connected with Becker's to discuss the healthcare disruptor he is most excited about. 

Note: This response has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Dr. Louis Levitt: The disruptor that most excites me right now is the concept of generational change in care delivery. The millennial generation — which is now the largest generation of adults after surpassing baby boomers based on 2019 U.S. Census Bureau data — has incredibly specific preferences for the way they receive care. For millennials, healthcare is all about efficiency, convenience and affordability, which is disrupting the industry in ways we as practitioners have never seen before. While change can be uncomfortable, I believe this generation's demands are forcing us to rethink care models and the way we run our businesses — often for the better.

Let's look at digital health as an example. Do we really need to see a patient for a follow-up in the office, or can we check-in via telehealth or monitor them remotely using digital devices? Can we kick off physical therapy in-person and then provide ongoing care at home? We can now leverage digital tools and artificial intelligence to help with documentation so we can capture robust notes while being more engaged with patients. Technological advances are making care more convenient, efficient and cost-effective, allowing us to meet patients where they are.  

I also see vast differences in how we build and maintain a patient base today. When I reflect on the beginning of my career in private practice, new patients largely came from primary care referrals, and relationships were everything. I knew my patients clinically, but also personally. It was truly a 24/7, always on environment. If a patient called me from the emergency room, I dropped everything to make sure I could be there as part of the care team, often alongside the primary care provider. Being at the hospital for rounds was a huge part of patient care and relationship management. This all led to patient loyalty. Alternatively, millennials aren't committed to one specific doctor or practice. Today, patients select their physician based on online reviews, and prioritize convenience factors like location, parking availability, online scheduling, average wait times, how quickly they can get an appointment and digital offerings, which has practices innovating to satisfy this generation of patients.  

Millennials are also influencing the shift away from fee-for-service medicine. Historically, patients preferred service-oriented care, which admittedly is more costly. But consumerism demands efficiency, and now patients want the quickest route to care requiring the fewest services all at the lowest cost. We have unprecedented access to data, which is informing care pathways and changing physician behavior. Where we may have previously immediately ordered an MRI, we are now making data-driven decisions and opting for more conservative treatment, often based on the insurer's recommendation. This new value-based approach leads to more efficient medicine, reduced costs and better, evidence-based outcomes.  

In today's evolving healthcare landscape, are private practitioners ready for the new care delivery model? Adapting requires significant resources and scale, leading to a trend of industry consolidation. Notably, 70 percent of doctors are now employed, but this isn't suitable for those keen on maintaining independence. 

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