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May 11, 2023

Part 1: Challenges of Leading the Younger Generation

Written by: A. Michi McClure, J.D., an AIHC member and Volunteer on the CEU Education Committee   

This Part 1 of a 2-part series addressing how healthcare originations can gain a better understanding to successfully hire and retain the younger generation. Please read Part 2 Solutions to Leading the Younger Generation.

Generation Y (Gen Y born between 1981 and 1996) is a diverse and multicultural generation, and they value inclusivity and social justice. They are highly educated and career-oriented, with a strong desire for flexibility, work-life balance, and personal fulfillment. This generation is also known for their entrepreneurial spirit, creativity, and ability to adapt to change quickly. They have a strong sense of individuality and are comfortable expressing themselves through various forms of digital media.

In terms of social and political views, Gen Y tends to be more progressive and open-minded than previous generations. They are concerned about issues such as climate change, racial and gender equality, and mental health, and they are vocal in advocating for change.

With many of our current healthcare leaders considered Millennials, and healthcare laws and regulations having been written by those considered Gen X and older, what impact does Gen Y have on Healthcare Compliance?

Gen Y and Authority

Gen Y is often characterized as having a more skeptical and independent attitude toward authority compared to previous generations. This may be due in part to their exposure to a wide range of information sources through the internet and social media, which has allowed them to question traditional sources of authority and seek out alternative perspectives. As Gen Y enters the workforce, they are bringing their unique perspectives and expectations to various industries, including healthcare.

Gen Y and Technology

Gen Y is the first generation to grow up in a world where technology is ubiquitous, and they are known for being tech-savvy and comfortable using digital tools to manage their own healthcare. However, the increasing reliance on healthcare technology creates several challenges and issues for the healthcare industry as a whole where Gen Y represents not only the future leaders in this industry but also future customers.

This generation has grown up in a digital age and is accustomed to on-demand services and instant access to information. As such, they have different expectations when it comes to healthcare delivery compared to previous generations. They expect healthcare providers to offer online and mobile services, such as virtual consultations, telemedicine, and appointment scheduling through apps and other digital platforms. Gen Y values convenience and flexibility, and they want to be able to access healthcare services from anywhere, at any time.

To capture this population as patients, healthcare is finding itself increasingly investing in digital tools and platforms that allow patients to access healthcare services from their smartphones or computers and creating a larger environment to create data breaches and cyber-attacks.

If digital healthcare platforms or apps are not adequately secured, patient data could be compromised, leading to compliance issues and negative consequences for patients. This has been illustrated by several startups in the digital healthcare space where proprietary medical records were not adequately tested before its use causing the unauthorized disclosure of thousands of patient records.

Gen Y and Social Media

Generation Y (Gen Y) is known for being social media savvy, having grown up with social media as a primary form of communication. While this skill can be beneficial in many industries, it also creates challenges for Gen Y workers in healthcare. Social media presents several compliance challenges for healthcare providers. For example, healthcare workers must adhere to strict regulations surrounding patient privacy and confidentiality. Posting about work-related matters on social media could lead to a breach of patient confidentiality, violating compliance requirements, and potentially harming patients.

Gen Y workers must also be mindful of the impact their social media presence could have on their professional reputation. Social media is often public, and healthcare providers must maintain a professional image to build trust with patients and colleagues. Posting inappropriate or unprofessional content could damage their professional reputation and impact their career prospects.

On the other hand, social media can be a valuable tool for healthcare providers to engage with patients and promote health education. By using social media to share educational content, answer patient questions, and promote healthy behaviors, healthcare providers can reach a broader audience and improve patient outcomes.

Overall, social media savviness can be both a strength and a challenge for Gen Y workers in healthcare. While social media can be a powerful tool for patient engagement and education, it also presents significant compliance risks and potential damage to professional reputations. Healthcare providers should work with Gen Y workers to navigate these challenges and develop appropriate policies and training to ensure that social media is used in a way that benefits patients while complying with regulations and protecting patient privacy.

Gen Y is Moving Fast and Breaking Things

As Gen Y enters the workforce, they bring with them a desire for efficiency and a focus on streamlining processes. While this can be beneficial in many industries, it creates a challenge for Gen Y workers in healthcare, where compliance with regulations is critical.

In healthcare, compliance with regulations is crucial to ensure patient safety and confidentiality. However, this can sometimes conflict with the desire for efficiency and streamlining processes. For example, taking shortcuts or skipping steps in a process could compromise patient safety or violate compliance requirements.

To address this challenge, Gen Y workers in healthcare must balance efficiency with compliance. They must find ways to streamline processes while adhering to regulations and maintaining patient safety and confidentiality. This requires a deep understanding of healthcare regulations and a commitment to following them, even if it means sacrificing some efficiency.

Finding the right balance between efficiency and compliance can be challenging. It requires collaboration between Gen Y workers and more experienced healthcare providers to identify areas where processes can be streamlined without compromising compliance. Additionally, it requires ongoing education and training to ensure that Gen Y workers understand the importance of compliance and the potential consequences of non-compliance.

By finding the right balance, healthcare providers and Gen Y workers can improve patient outcomes while ensuring that patient safety and confidentiality are protected. This requires ongoing collaboration, education, and training to ensure that Gen Y workers understand the importance of compliance and the role they play in maintaining it.

Gen Y and Adherence to Policy and Procedure

Gen Y workers bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to the healthcare industry, and they often have a different approach to work than previous generations. One challenge that Gen Y workers face in healthcare is the need to adhere to policies and procedures.

Compliance in healthcare requires strict adherence to policies and procedures to ensure patient safety and confidentiality. However, Gen Y workers may have a more relaxed approach to work and may not always follow established policies and procedures as closely as older generations.

To address this challenge, healthcare providers must prioritize education and training, and maybe that training and education is not delivered in the same way it was delivered to previous generations. Perhaps we put less emphasis on the “what” and more on the “why.”  The expectation should be that healthcare proficiency will take time. Gen Y is going to ask questions; we who are more senior should embrace that. Leaders must create an environment where new hires feel encouraged to learn which includes making mistakes, while fostering a culture of compliance within the workplace. Set clear expectations for behavior, consequences for non-compliance, and communication should include feedback.

Adherence to policies and procedures is critical in healthcare, and we create a win-win when healthcare providers leverage the strengths of Gen Y workers while maintaining patient safety and confidentiality.

Gen Y and Communication Modes

Gen Y's preference for communicating via email and text messages has had a significant impact on the delivery of healthcare and the compliance surrounding such modes of communication. Simply put, Gen Y expects their healthcare providers to use digital tools to communicate with them.

One of the key benefits of using email and text messaging in healthcare is the ability to improve communication between patients and healthcare providers. With the rise of telehealth services, patients can easily connect with their providers through email or text messaging, regardless of their physical location. This can be particularly beneficial for patients who live in remote areas or have mobility issues.

Using email and text messaging also allows for more efficient communication between patients and healthcare providers. Patients can quickly and easily communicate their healthcare concerns, ask questions, or request prescription refills, without having to wait on hold or schedule an appointment. This can save both patients and healthcare providers time and resources.

The potential downsides to using email and text messaging in healthcare are not only with regard to privacy and security, but also in miscommunication or misunderstanding between patients and providers. Healthcare providers must be diligent in ensuring that their messages are clear and concise, and that patients understand any instructions or advice provided.


As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, it will be important for healthcare providers to adapt to the unique needs and preferences of this emerging generation of patients. Please read Part 2: Solutions to Leading the Younger Generation written by the AIHC Volunteer Education Committee (which includes Michi McClure)

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