Baby Boomers and Gen Xers and the “T” word

Many Baby Boomers and early Gen Xers hope they can avoid the “T” word long enough to exit the workforce gracefully before having to adopt any more new technology. The owner of a single proprietor doctor’s practice I spoke to recently is a great example. He said he is willing to pay fines and increased insurance fees, and even face poor Google ratings, in order to avoid the pain of “modernizing” his systems. This, despite having another 10-plus years before his anticipated retirement.

Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and other age generationsBaby Boomers (aged 53 to 71 this year) and early Gen Xers (the older half of the generational group turning 37 to 52 years old in 2017) have at least two things in common:

  1. They did not grow up tethered to technology
  2. They represent the majority of leaders in most industries today

People aged 51 to 58 are leading most health care organizations today

The A&M Executive Compensation and Benefits proprietary databases and analytic systems generated these facts:

  • The average CEO is 55 years old.
  • The average CFO is 52 years old.
  • The combined average of all C-suite executives is 53 years old.

The flip side of the coin? Vivek Wadhwa looks at leaders of technology businesses in a recent TechCrunch article. Research by the Harvard Law School senior research associate and Duke University executive in residence shows the average high-growth tech company founder is considerably younger: 40 years old.

Okay, so the health care industry has older leaders—why is this significant?

Consider the paradox: Despite not being born into a relationship with technology like your typical Millennial, Baby Boomers and Gen Xers have found themselves in the driver’s seat at the inception of their company’s digital future. Is this a case of wrong place, wrong time for the I.T. laggard?


A MIT Sloan School of Management study shows companies whose leadership promotes innovative technology were 26 percent more profitable than their peers and had nine percent higher revenue.

The last Baby Boomer will turn 65 in 2029. That’s just 12 years until the final “Boomers” reach retirement age! But it’s even more pressing than that: Unless you plan to retire before the first post-Millennials reach drinking age (that’s 2019, barely more than a year from now), you won’t be able to avoid the digital tsunami in the workplace. Make no mistake, it is coming and it will engulf all of us.

The next 20 years for Baby Boomers and Gen Xers in health care

Google’s top rated futurist Thomas Frey said “humanity will change more in the next 20 years than in all of human history.” And that was a few years ago. At the time, he offered these gut-checking 2030 predictions:

  • 80 percent of all doctors’ visits will be automated exams (See original source)
  • Traditional pharmaceuticals will be replaced by hyper-individualized medicines that are manufactured at the time they are ordered (See original source)
  • Basic computer programming will be considered a core skill required in over 20 percent of all jobs

Health care CEOs see technology's impact

Are you ready for the changes?

Stop? Go straight? Turn left or right?

As a business leader, you want to end up on the correct side of the digital revolution.

First rule: Stop thinking of technology as the domain of the next generation. Baby Boomers and Gen Xers need to get used to learning new things all the time. It’s not just pre-Millennials, EVERYBODY will have to be a continual learner. Read my article on how you can embrace I.T.

But that isn’t new, is it? Committing to a life of learning keeps our minds sharp. Keeping current is good for you.

And it’s good for your company. Successful health care organizations don’t simply use technology to do the same things more efficiently; rather, they use technology to conduct business in entirely new ways.

By the way, the conversation I had with that doctor intent on not adopting technology was in the reception area at a local, forward-thinking barber shop. Despite the doctor’s arrival there before me, my online check-in allowed me to be ushered past him when the next barber was ready. How’s that for foreshadowing, eh?

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