Why digital healthcare is the future for Gen Z
As the last of Gen Z enters menarche, we are an entire generation who is seeking access to sexual and reproductive health information and care. While people currently in decision-making roles may be less trusting of digital healthcare, digital tech is the future of health access and equity.
Digital health involves using technology like video or phone conferencing to have a consultation with a doctor. We can then get healthcare remotely without needing to physically visit a clinic to have an in-person consultation with a health professional.
The majority of articles written about problems of digital health and young people are written about us but lack our input. Here are some of my thoughts on why Gen Z is likely to gravitate towards telehealth and other aspects of digital healthcare.
We are familiar with tech
Gen Z is the first generation to have grown up surrounded by technology. It’s a part of ‘how we play, how we work and how we learn’. We’re more comfortable embracing technology as part of our day-to-day healthcare than other generations.
Medical abortion via telehealth involves speaking with health professionals over the phone and having medication delivered via courier. It provides us with the option of self-administering our own medication, with 24/7 medical advice and support.
We can control the setting
Gen Z faces increased pressure, stress, and uncertainty. Two out of three Gen Z’s feel miserable or unhappy. Trust is critical, not only of the health provider we choose to see, but also their ethics. Not only do we want to choose who our health providers are, we also want more control over where we engage with them and how.
Digital healthcare lets us maintain a certain amount of anonymity and control over the level of interaction with the doctor. We can’t get this same aspect of control through face-to-face consultations. For some of us, the thought of speaking once off to someone over the phone to get a standard medical abortion script is better than having to visit a doctor who we may see again in the future.
We can maintain our own privacy
We are articulate about our privacy needs, and we know when and where we are willing to take risks. Although we’re more open to sacrifice data privacy for personalised care, we want to choose a comfortable space to access our healthcare. We want a more person-centred approach, with practitioners who respect that we each have unique bodies, experiences and lives.
We need personalised care. We want to access healthcare in settings where we feel comfortable, through a method that we feel comfortable with. Telehealth and other forms of digital health mean we can speak to a doctor from our homes, or from another safe and private space. For example, medical abortion via telehealth means that we can have a medical abortion where we want to, not where we have to.
We value convenience
For us, convenience is important, even more so than maintaining a relationship with our doctors. We want quick access to care, without the need to wait in lines. A phone call with a doctor is ideal, especially considering 98% of us own a smartphone. We also think more about what we spend money on, so care has to be cost-effective.
Imagine never having to step foot inside a doctor’s office again for scripts and referrals. Digital health makes this a reality by giving us access to medication and referrals at the click of a button. Telehealth means that we don’t spend as much time or money travelling to access abortion care.
Gen Z has more information at our fingertips than any generation before us. Digital health has encouraged us to be more engaged in our own healthcare. It gives us power over our own bodies and supports us to dictate how, where and when we get healthcare.
Swathy Santhakumar is a Project Coordinator at Marie Stopes Australia. She is a proud member of Gen Z and wants to encourage more young people to engage in improving healthcare access and delivery. She also wants to encourage people to listen (seriously listen) to younger voices because she knows they have thoughts, opinions, and an incredible amount of young person wisdom to share. Follow Swathy on Twitter.