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Thought leadership

The Millennial Will See You Now: Marketing to the New Generation of Healthcare Professionals

Judy Murphy, PhD, Evoke Director of Science and Medicine By Dr. Judy Murphy
Director, Science & Medicine

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As millennials become the largest age demographic, they are not only a critical audience as consumers of healthcare, but they also make up an increasing proportion of today’s healthcare professionals (HCPs). This age group has grown up in an environment where technology has been at the forefront and as HCPs, they have adopted digital into all aspects of their lives, including how they are learning medicine and managing patients.

Millennials, defined as people born between the years of 1980-1996, have unique interests, attitudes, and behaviors that distinguish them from their Boomer or Generation X counterparts. Millennial HCPs are active on social media for both personal and professional purposes. More than half of millennial doctors use physician-only networks like Sermo and Doximity, and sites such as Medium and Quora are used by these HCPs to share information and stories from their practice in longer-form posts. However, they often feel unfulfilled by the large amount of time spent navigating insurance and other paperwork, and place a high value on work-life balance within their demanding work schedules.

When attempting to reach millennial HCPs, there are several traits that must be considered:

1. Discerning when it comes to online information

Approximately twice as many HCPs under the age of 35 use their smartphones to calculate prescription doses, read articles or abstracts, and watch professional videos than physicians over the age of 55. However, young physicians are also highly critical of the information provided to them by mobile platforms. Lack of accreditation by valid health institutions or lack of updates are among the chief concerns of medical students using medical mobile apps.

2. Excited by novel media channels

Podcasting, which arose alongside the widespread use of smartphones, has become a popular and convenient way to consume information and entertainment. Podcast listeners are more likely to be millennials, have a high household income, and have an advanced degree than the average American; it follows that HCPs will be well-represented among podcast listeners. Several highly-rated podcasts are aimed at physicians, such as 2 Docs Talk and TEDTalks: Science and Medicine. While many of these physician-directed podcasts do not contain advertising or any company affiliation, others, such as New England Journal of Medicine: This Week, are sponsored by medical journals. Navigating how best to reach HCPs through new mediums such as social media and podcasting is an exciting challenge.

3. Socially conscious

HCPs feel a responsibility to be an ethical advocate for their patients, and an additional trait of millennials is a preference for brands who are vocal about their corporate social responsibility. Transparency and authenticity around social causes are important in reaching millennial HCPs.

4. Disillusioned with many aspects of medical practice

HCPs of previous generations have typically practiced medicine until retirement. Millennial HCPs are becoming more likely to consider leaving medical practice, in part because they find the administrative aspects tedious and time-consuming.

How can we reach and influence millennial HCPs?

Millennials have demonstrated that while they are accustomed to technology and rapid access to data, they can be nuanced in their consumption of information and the brands they support. We recommend that marketing tools should provide millennial HCPs with a clear impression not only of the product but also the priorities of the entire company. Engaging millennial thought leaders on social media will also help establish the authenticity desired by young physicians.

Many millennial HCPs have an entrepreneurial mindset and may be more receptive to marketing channels that challenge and engage them, rather than simply provide them with new information. We propose that the traditional model of sales representatives calling on HCPs could be made more digital, creative, and immersive, resulting in HCPs continuing to ponder how they could better serve their patients long after the experience has ended.

Given this audience’s affinity for podcasts, it is critical to consider a brand’s long-form story. Traditionally, we plan for shorter and shorter engagements, however the podcast presents a format for a longer narrative. We believe this channel has the potential to influence millennial HCPs by helping them stay up-to-date in the fast-paced medical field and enabling them to hear stories from their peers about the challenges in and out of the clinic. How to incorporate marketing into new or existing podcasts is one strategic challenge that Evoke is excited to address with our clients.