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Millennials have the world at their fingertips but it's harming their health, CVS Health study finds

July 29, 2019 | Mental Health

Path to Better Health Study reveals opportunity to balance digital health with social connection

WOONSOCKET, R.I., July 29, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Millennials may be the first digital natives, but that love of technology could also be harming their health, according to the Path to Better Health Study by CVS Health (NYSE: CVS). The study, now in its second year, explores consumer health goals and asks providers what they need to help patients reach those goals.

Millennials a generation that came of age during the rise of technology and that has led a more transient, flexible lifestyle have more difficulty meeting new people or making social connections compared to other generations, notably consumers 65 and older, according to the study, which was published today. More than half (53 percent) of consumers aged 18–34 say they don’t know where to meet new people, compared to just 27 percent of people 65 and older and 35 percent of those aged 51–64. Nearly half (48 percent) of millennials also say they no longer have a desire to be social, compared to just 20 percent of consumers 65 and older and 35 percent of those aged 51–64, suggesting that older consumers may have different social needs.

That social isolation may be leading to increased problems with mental illness and abuse of alcohol. Forty-two percent say they struggle or know someone else struggling with mental illness (the highest of all age groups), and 35 percent cite having had problems or knowing someone who has had problems with alcohol use in the last five years (compared to 26 percent overall).

Consumers of all ages rate themselves as either good or excellent across most of the six well-being dimensions: character strengths (72 percent), sense of purpose and social connectedness (63 percent each), emotional health (62 percent), physical health (58 percent) and financial security (47 percent).

“Millennials who helped pioneer the use of the Internet and social media have a significant influence on health care transformation. Their need for greater support in making and maintaining social connections, and in achieving their mental health goals, indicates that we need a system focused not just on physical health but on total health,” said Karen S. Lynch, Executive Vice President, CVS Health, and President of Aetna. “Our physical health is directly impacted by other important aspects of our lives including our mental health, social connections and financial health. The good news is that people are getting proactive about addressing these holistic concerns. Now, our health system must adapt to how consumers are approaching health care and be more inclusive and supportive of people’s total health.”

Integrating digital health tools to support personal connection

Transforming the health system in a way that balances digital health support with personal connection will be key to providing millennials and future generations the support they need in the ways most convenient to them.

Millennials, predictably, show a greater reliance on digital technologies, including health tools. Sixty-four percent of consumers aged 18–34 feel that being able to monitor their health is very or somewhat important, compared to 52 percent of those aged 65 and up. Their use of digital health tools varies as well, according to their respective health priorities. Electronic diaries or apps (28 percent), wearable trackers (27 percent) and calorie counters (26 percent) are the top three tools millennials use to track their personal health. Consumers 65 and older, meanwhile, use blood pressure monitors with tracking capabilities (24 percent), wearable trackers (15 percent) and blood or glucose monitors (13 percent) the most to track their personal health.

Although nearly half of millennials (46 percent) still value in-person walk-in office hours to communicate with their providers, their reliance on primary care physicians is the lowest of any consumer group. Just 45 percent say they receive routine care for minor illness or injury from a primary care physician, compared to 59 percent of those aged 35-50 and 76 percent of those 65 and older. Another 32 percent, meanwhile, receive such care at non-emergency walk-in clinics, and 14 percent at their local pharmacies the highest among all generations for both care settings.

“The existing system of episodic health care is falling short, but we are working to reinvent health care to better connect with all consumers, including millennials, and improve their overall well-being,” said Alan Lotvin, M.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Transformation Officer, CVS Health. “Through multiple initiatives, including our goal to dramatically expand HealthHUB services and locations, we are providing digital and physical connections that feel like essentially every other interaction in our life seamless, simple and easily available. By engaging consumers through local connections and providing personalized, daily support, we can radically change the way consumers engage in their health. That’s where we are going as a company and where we need to go as a nation.”

Other highlights from the study include:

  • Chronic health conditions are driving consumer health goals. The health goals consumers have today are centered around the top four chronic conditions they or someone in their household are facing: These include obesity and other weight concerns (42 percent), high blood pressure (40 percent), mental illness (32 percent) and diabetes (20 percent).
  • Women are more likely to report concerns with weight and living with mental illness. Nearly half of women (47 percent) say they struggle or have someone in their household struggling with obesity or other weight concerns, compared to just 31 percent of men. Women (36 percent) are also more likely to report suffering from or having someone in their household suffering from mental illness, compared to just 23 percent of men who report the same.
  • Supporting providers in enhancing digital capabilities could be key to unlocking better care outcomes. Providers need greater support in balancing digital adoption with caring for patients, but those who do receive such support and adopt digital tools are likely to record better patient outcomes. For example, 58 percent of providers who use patient portals recommend that their patients set health goals, compared to just 14 percent of providers who don’t use such portals. Using digital tools also helps providers spend more time with patients: Sixty-two percent who use mobile apps to communicate with patients are somewhat or very satisfied with time spent with patients, compared to 38 percent of providers who don't use mobile apps.
  • Value-based care is taking hold, and it lends itself to greater satisfaction among providers. More than half (62 percent) of providers say their practice is highly involved or becoming involved in the use of value-based care. Among those who have heard of such models, 57 percent are very satisfied with time spent with patients, versus just 43 percent of providers who haven’t heard of them. When it comes to supporting value-based care, meanwhile, pharmacists are the biggest proponents, with 93 percent saying it will positively impact patient health.

Read the full study here.

About the study

The Path to Better Health Study by CVS Health, first released in 2018 and called the Health Ambitions Study, was conducted in April and May 2019 and included two surveys fielded by Market Measurement, a national market research consulting firm. The consumer survey comprised 1,000 participants 18 and older, located throughout the U.S. It also oversampled six metropolitan statistical areas Atlanta, Austin, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle and South Florida, and among two ethnic groups: African Americans and Hispanics. The survey of 400 providers focused on primary care physicians and specialists with at least two years’ experience. In 2019, the study was expanded to include nurse practitioners, physician assistants and pharmacists.

About CVS Health

CVS Health is the nation’s premier health innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Whether in one of its pharmacies or through its health services and plans, CVS Health is pioneering a bold new approach to total health by making quality care more affordable, accessible, simple and seamless. CVS Health is community-based and locally focused, engaging consumers with the care they need when and where they need it. The Company has more than 9,900 retail locations, approximately 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with approximately 94 million plan members, a dedicated senior pharmacy care business serving more than one million patients per year, expanding specialty pharmacy services, and a leading stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. CVS Health also serves an estimated 38 million people through traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including rapidly expanding Medicare Advantage offerings. This innovative health care model increases access to quality care, delivers better health outcomes and lowers overall health care costs. Find more information about how CVS Health is shaping the future of health at


T.J. Crawford

Kathleen Biesecker