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Millennials Are Ruining Everything…

November 19, 2018 • Business • Brooke McIntosh

If you haven’t heard it yet, let me be the first to tell you that millennials are apparently ruining everything. According to the internet, millennials are ruining cereal companies, the housing market, department stores, chain restaurants, and even the beloved fabric softener. By ruining, they mean to say that millennials just aren’t buying into, engaging with, or even shopping at the same places their parents and grandparents did.

Should business owners be afraid that millennials are going to “ruin” their physical therapy practices as well?

Did you know that millennials are expected to surpass Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living adult generation in 2019? Let’s face it, many of your patients, therapists, technicians, and front desk staff were probably born between 1981 and 1996, which makes them millennials. How can we attract and manage this age group as patients? I think in the physical therapy world we have been focused on our millennial employees, but not so much on the millennial patient. Although we shouldn’t be thinking about millennial patients and employees much differently, the strategies do have to be slightly altered. We can look at three needs of most millennials which are connection, convenience, and transparency.


This age group craves authentic connections that turn into lifelong relationships not only with people, but also brands. Millennials are also one of the most brand loyal generations you will find, but you have to meet them where they are. Sorry for those who are not tech-savvy, but connection usually starts online. You already know this, but you should be actively using social media for your clinic and making sure that your website is mobile friendly. But, do your therapists have a way to text their patients to check in, have digital access to their HEP, or can patients schedule online in real time? Connection also comes from trusting others, so you better believe this patient group is looking at your reviews on Google, Yelp, and Facebook.


The need for convenience should not to be confused with laziness. Millennials are no longer 9-5 kind of workers. They are looking for flexibility and convenience in every aspect of their lives, but this goes along with the fact that approximately 42% of millennials have a side hustle outside of their full-time job.

These patients do not want to come to your clinic 2-3x per week for 12 weeks if not absolutely necessary. They also want early mornings, later nights, lunch time, and even weekend options to go with their flexible work schedules. Does your state allow for telehealth? Many millennials are opting for quick and convenient online appointments with their physicians and will be looking for the same from physical therapist.


You can guarantee as soon as their hip started to hurt or their physician handed them a prescription for physical therapy, the millennial patient started to Google and ask questions. They might end up at your clinic having read 5 different articles on conservative management of their rotator cuff tear, or they might have had 8 different people respond to their tweet that their physical therapist just did passive treatments and they never got better. They will be looking for evidence based reasoning behind your treatments and patient education with full disclosure is the best way to go.

Honestly, these are probably things all of your patients will appreciate, not just the millennial ones. But, if you don’t want millennials to “ruin” your practice, it is time to update your standards and meet the soon to be largest living generation where they are. Oh, and don’t forget our participation trophies.



Brooke MacIntosh, PT, DPT, OCS is EIM’s Orthopaedic Residency Program Director and a proud millennial herself. This blog post is meant to offer a light-hearted view of generational stereotypes we all face everyday. Contact us at [email protected] for more information on our educational offerings.

Brooke McIntosh

Brooke McIntosh PT, DPT, is the Director of Accredited Programs and the Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Residency Program Director at Evidence in Motion. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science from The Florida State University in 2012 and her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences in 2015. Brooke...

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Leda McDaniel, PT, DPT

Commented • January 25, 2020

Hi Chris and Mark, I LOVED this podcast and diving into the importance of the subjective exam! I also have been inspired by the work of Atul Gawande's "Checklist Manifesto" and have applied that reasoning to creating PT evaluation "checklists" to facilitate some of the similar points that you mention: keeping a logical flow and structure for an exam, asking comprehensive red flag screening questions, guiding a systematic decision making process and allowing for "checking" and self-reflection after patient evaluations to assess whether my clinical thought process for diagnosis and treatment followed a rational progression (also as a teaching tool for students learning exam skills). Would love your feedback on how I apply this and if you find these checklists useful (Below are 2 links to blog posts that I wrote specifically about these ideas, and within are links to my checklists): Thanks very much for sharing your experience and expertise! Best, Leda

Jon Waxham

Commented • January 24, 2020

Heidi, I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. I share in your frustration and certainly agree we need to think creatively and be pro-active when evaluating the administrative side of things and our commitment to high level documentation. I also agree that patient advocacy is the primary driver of change for an organization like CMS. My greatest frustration is that this seems fairly obvious, however the APTA has done nothing to communicate these changes to the patients directly other than social media. Drug companies long ago realized that they needed to cut out the middle man and make the case for their products directly to the consumer. As a result, every other commercial these days is from a drug manufacturer, so now patients go into the doctor's office asking about these drugs instead of waiting for the doctor's suggestion that they might help. We wouldn't still be bombarded by drug ads if they weren't effective. I can't understand why the APTA has not used some of it's marketing budget to speak directly to consumers about our services so patients were educated about the benefits of physical therapy, so they were aware how CMS policies will affect their care and can get directly involved, so when they went in to see the doctor because of neck pain or balance issues that they are the ones asking to go to PT. You point out that we must think proactively and advocate, but when productivity requirements continue to go up and more personal time is spent on documentation we need to rely on our professional association. I feel it is time that they consider some forward thinking and radical changes to the way they do business. I refer to the old adage that doing what you have always done and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. The APTA needs to change their methods and communicate directly with our current and future patients if we are to stop this steady decline in reimbursement and spread the word about the benefits of physical therapy care.

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