Not your father’s doctor: how millennial physicians prefer to learn

It’d be a gross understatement to say that the pace of change in healthcare has “quickened.” Perhaps more apt: It’s been kicked into lightning speed. But what has driven such a dramatic evolution of the space?

Advances in technology, sure. A shift in delivery towards preventive care, of course. But perhaps an overlooked arbiter of that change is the emergence of millennial leaders in the industry: physicians, executives, and other thought leaders born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s.

Such generational change is taking place in tandem with the evolution of Medical Affairs (MA), which is undergoing its own dramatic shift towards what we’ve called Medical Affairs 2.0. So what impact does the emergence of millennial leaders have on MA?

A Drop in Sales Reps…But Why?

Recent research by Bain & Company showed a reduced reliance on pharma sales reps, with the number of reps decreasing by seven percent between 2005 and 2011, a trend that continues. One reason for that reduction? Younger physicians.

Put simply, newer generations of physicians seek other sources of information beyond traditional Pharma reps. This new generation of physicians is seeking more inputs from credible sources, with the goal of making the most informed decision possible.

That makes for a huge opportunity for MA professionals, as younger doctors are now turning to scientific publications, peers and professional events more than ever to learn about advancements in treatment.

3 Alternative Sources Millennial Physicians Use

So how can MA professionals best accommodate this growing generation’s desire to learn about advances in therapeutics? Pay attention to following channels to make the most of their preferred way of receiving information.

1. Medical Journals

According to a poll performed by physician community SERMO, more than 95 percent of millennial providers learn about pharma advances from scientific publications. They take great stock in the credibility and weight of these journals when the science is sound and findings are evidence-based.

2. Peers

According to that same SERMO survey, 75 percent learn about advances from their peers. This means opportunities await in the KOL and networking space, where MA professionals can engage thought leaders that physicians hold in highest regard. And it means that it is imperative for Medical Affairs departments to identify and engage with up-and-coming thought leaders as well.

3. Medical Events and CMEs

Roughly half of millennial physicians said they heard about new advances through continuing medical education (CME) and events. By identifying the right events, MA professionals can maintain a presence and deliver scientific information at the right place and time, when millennials are most keen to listen. Keep in mind that tomorrow’s thought leaders probably don’t start out at the major medical conferences, so it’s important to consider local meetings as well.

These three inputs are especially relevant in this age of Big Data, where clinical specialties — such as immunotherapy and metabolic insights — hinge on personalized medicine. Medical Affairs departments equipped with the latest data and deepest knowledge about these individualized patterns and patient populations will increasingly be the difference to physicians of any age.