A new survey has shed light on Baby Boomers when it comes to their health and it turns out Boomers are less likely than other generations to seek second opinions.
The results of the survey, which was conducted by Galaxy research and commissioned by Tender Healthcare, found Baby Boomers were more trusting than younger generations when it comes to their relationship with health professionals. In fact, just 38 per cent of Boomers have sought a second opinion about a health condition they’ve experienced, compared to 50 per cent of Millennials.
Dr Myles Holt, dentist and founder of Tender Healthcare, told Starts at 60 this is likely due to changes in the doctor-patient relationship over time.
“In the past decades, the doctor-patient relationship was more in line of ‘doctor knows best’ and there was almost an unquestioning trust that Baby Boomers would have in health care professionals,” he said.
These days, with the rise of the internet and online services such as Doctor Google, younger generations aren’t as willing to settle with the first opinion they get. In fact, advice from regulatory bodies, associations and recent research has supported the fact that giving patients more control of their healthcare and empowering them more in the decisions, such as seeking a second opinion, translates to better healthcare outcomes.
Holt explained there has been an increase of patients posting their health case online and getting multiple second opinions.
“The overall message generally is it’s critical that patients take a little bit of time, where they can, these are not emergency cases we’re talking about, to do some research, get some different opinions on treatment options and also costings,” he said.
Typical procedures such as beauty services or dental cleaning are generally consistent across the board, but it’s procedures with a high cost, that are invasive or come with complications that people should be seeking second opinions on. It’s also important to get various opinions when there are multiple treatment options available.
“We’re now getting an influx of practitioners from different parts of the world whose training, knowledge base and even own philosophy of what the best approach might be vary dramatically. So it’s really important to get multiple opinions and then see what the consistent advice might be.”
For example, some patients are unaware that costs for similar surgeries or treatments can vary significantly from one location to another — even within their own state or city. The research showed Boomers are more likely than Generation X and Millennials to think that the cost of the same medical service can vary significantly between health professionals. Boomers are also more likely than younger generations to travel outside of their local area to visit a cardiologist or oncologist if it meant they received better quality and more affordable prices. Still, it’s not something health professionals such as Holt have seen people doing.
“People realise there is this discrepancy, but they haven’t really put two and two together,” he explained. “It doesn’t necessarily mean they have to fly off to another country or to another state, it may literally be just across town.
“Traditionally, [getting second opinions at outside locations] is very hard to do. You have to run around to multiple physical consultations which no one has the time for and it’s expensive.”
These days, people can use the internet to their advantage. The data from the research also found Boomers were more likely than Gen X and Millennials to consider online services to see a doctor, medical specialist or alternate health practitioner. However, Holt warned it was important for people not to put off seeking medical treatment, particularly because two thirds of people surveyed explained they delayed health treatment because of cost.
“When linking all these points together, the solution becomes really clear. You might go to one person and the cost might be prohibitive. Instead of putting it off, jump online,” he said. “You may well find that just across town you can get the treatment you need when you need it and save yourself time and money. We’ve had a lot of cases on our website where people would be in Western Sydney or Brisbane, just travel across town and they’ve saved themselves thousands of dollars.”