The Boomers Are Back And They’re Disrupting Healthcare
Who is shaping the demand for consumer health technologies? While millennials are distracted by interactive social apps, it’s the boomers who are proving to be the most influential generation on the development of emerging medical technologies.
Those radical hippies and cause-driven students who marched behind protest banners, challenged the status quo, and experimented with just about everything during the turbulent days of the1960s, are now having the same impact on U.S. healthcare. Many of them – including their less radical classmates – are channeling those energies of days past to help redefine what it means to grow old in America.
What’s important to these ‘60s kids now, as it was then, is quality of life and this value is fueling the demand for new and re-vamped medical technologies and services. Boomers are impacting hospitals, health plans, long-term and home care services, and treatment courses for age-related diseases the same way now as they shaped the Woodstock line-up back then.
A baby boomer turns 60 every 7.5 seconds
The Baby Boomers are a remarkable bunch. They are a generation of unprecedented breadth and stamina. According to US Census Bureau estimates, by 2020 the population of Americans who are 50 years and older will be over 35% and the size of that same population will more than double in the next 35 years. An AARP Report confirms that 80% of Boomers have graduated from high school, and close to a quarter of them are college-educated. The same report demonstrates the correlation between education and lifetime income, shedding light on the statistic that Boomers are projected to hold 70% of US disposable income. They are also living longer than any generation before them. According to a recent report by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 82% of Boomers born in 1946 are still alive and the men in this cohort can expect to live another 22 years, while Boomer women can expect to live another 25.
It’s no surprise that Boomers are expected to be more demanding on our healthcare system. They adamantly want to live longer, healthier, more active lives and many of these Boomers will go to unbelievable lengths to maintain their youth. They’re looking at innovative technologies that are going to help them achieve that: more implants, joint replacements, cosmetic surgeries, even voice lifts.
The mere fact that these flower children are getting older also means that the behavior of this huge population cohort will transform the US healthcare system. The aging of Boomers will trigger dynamic changes in the demand for more robust healthcare services including physicians and surgeons in many different specialties, inpatient and outpatient services in different procedural areas, telemedicine to replace visits to physicians and long-term, home and community-based services.
Getting to know them…all over again
So what does all this mean for us health tech communications people? We’re looking at a market segment of more than 70 million people in their golden years who are wealthier, more educated, living longer and who are, most likely, more opinionated than any population of seniors that came before them.
From a marketing perspective, the Boomers have come full circle. They represent the same highly sought after target group now as they did back in the day. And any forward thinking company that thinks otherwise and doesn’t make the effort to understand their specific health issues and concerns just wouldn’t be “groovy,” man.