You may be forgiven for being a little suspicious of yet another wave of media hype about dealing with the latest "next generation" of patients. Marketing consultants, after all, make a healthy living advising businesses on how to tailor their approaches to attracting different types of customers. (Now, more than a decade into the LASIK era, I think it's safe to use such words as business and customer; after all they are, before you turn them into patients, customers.)

There's no denying that Generation Y, the Millennials, the MyPod Generation, has engendered a higher level of interest and analysis as a group than any since their parents, the boomers. You can admittedly get carried away putting too much emphasis on generational divides and generalizing about any group based on age. But there actually do seem to be differences here that warrant closer inspection if not an altered approach to patient recruitment.

Besides being a marketing challenge, they're actually a very interesting group. They're closer to their parents than earlier generations, technologically savvy, socially conscious and far more community-focused, at least as far as cell-phone, Internet and text-messsaging connections constitute community.

But the important thing for our purposes is not what makes them interesting, but what's going to attract them to your refractive surgery practice. While the debate continues about whether a recession is in the cards or not, there's little debate that economic uncertainty is here, and that's never a plus for refractive surgeons. If there ever was any low-hanging fruit in the LASIK market, it's long since picked.

So, while you'll also find our more typical articles on technical and surgical aspects of refractive surgery, this month we took the unusual step of making a marketing article our cover story. Chances are you won't wind up streaming YouTube in your waiting room, but this one is definitely worth a look.