Millennials more likely to challenge doctor recommendations

Sermo poll: Millennials more likely to challenge doctor recommendations, more comfortable discussing healthcare costs, less likely to build relationships with physicians

Millennials—the generation of Americans born between 1980 and 2000, depending on who is counting—are often maligned as self-centered, dependent on their parents, with a streak of entitlement. At the same time, the millennial generation has been credited with driving innovation in the digital economy, reeling in the consumerism of their parents’ generation, and being more thoughtful about spending decisions.

But what do these conflicting perceptions mean for millennials’ effect on the healthcare industry? Sermo, the largest global social network for doctors, polled U.S. physicians about their interactions with millennial-age patients to identify trends in how millennials seek medical treatment.

When asked to identify the top difference between millennial patients and others, nearly half of doctors—45 percent—said millennials are more likely to challenge treatment recommendations than other patients. An additional 16 percent identified millennials being more cost-conscious as the biggest generational difference.

Booking one-off appointments appears to be a common habit of millennial patients. More than half (57 percent) of doctors reported that millennial patients are likely to seek a one-time appointment instead of developing a relationship with their physician. Just 43 percent of doctors polled said their millennial patients return at the same rate as others.

Reinforcing the perception of millennials as frugal consumers, more than half of respondents—54 percent—reported their millennial patients were more up-front about asking for lower-cost alternatives than other patients.

“With more millennials entering adulthood and making medical decisions on their own, we’re seeing the impacts of their choices in a number of ways,” said Dr. Linda Girgis, a member of Sermo’s Medical Advisory Board. “From a tendency to shop around for doctors to a higher level of comfort in discussing costs, millennials are pushing for healthcare options that fit their schedules and budgets.”

Looking to the future, doctors predicted a range of effects that millennial patients may have on health care delivery. The biggest changes doctors expect to result from millennial patient habits in coming years are:

  • Increased use of telemedicine (28 percent)
  • Proliferation of walk-in clinic settings (27 percent)
  • Growth in online scheduling and extended hours (24 percent)
  • Greater transparency for out-of-pocket costs (11 percent)
  • Easily portable electronic health records (10 percent)

This poll was conducted via email to a random selection of the Sermo community. 2,885 doctors licensed in the United States responded. Participation was voluntary and results were kept anonymous. The margin of error for this poll is ±2%.

About Sermo
Sermo is the leading global social network for physicians – the world’s largest virtual doctors’ lounge, where hundreds of thousands of fully verified and licensed global physicians anonymously talk real-world medicine, collectively solve cases, respond to healthcare polls, and earn honorarium from surveys. Sermo is also the world’s largest healthcare professional (HCP) polling company, conducting 700,000 surveys per year. The Sermo platform is composed of two million HCPs from 80 countries, and includes the largest U.S. physician panel in existence: over 800,000 doctors who represent more than 80 percent of the U.S. physician population. By giving doctors a private and trusted platform for open dialogue with international colleagues, and by presenting more opportunities to engage with and learn from global HCPs, Sermo is revolutionizing real-world medicine. Learn more at

Media Contacts:
Liz Wells, Racepoint Global;
o:+1 202 517 1386

Osnat Benshoshan, Chief Marketing Officer, Sermo