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Millennial Physicians Bring New Expectations to Relationships With Patients, Peers and Pharma

National Survey Reveals Four out of Five Gen Y Doctors Believe Millennial Patients Require a Different Relationship with Their Doctors than Older Patients

Millennial physicians defined as 26 to 36 year old general practitioners are redefining the patient-physician relationship. According to a new report released today from inVentiv Health agencies, GSW, inVentiv Health PR Group and PALIO, 66 percent of millennial doctors change their approach according to the age of the patient they’re seeing. This includes being more likely to ask millennial patients to do additional research on their own, and simplifying explanations for non-millennial patients.

The online survey uncovered behaviors and attitudes about how doctors gather treatment information, interact with patients and view the pharma industry. The goal was to better understand today’s newest physicians and how their generational distinction impacts how they approach their practice.

“We’ve done a lot of research around millennials and their health preferences, from concerns and consumption habits to which health brands are best meeting the needs of Gen Y,” said Leigh Householder, Chief Innovation Officer at GSW. “With this report, we headed into the practice of millennial physicians and found that age really does impact their approach to relationships and patient care.”

The survey report, “Millennial Mindset: The Collaborative Clinician,” outlines how millennial physicians prefer a collaborative approach to nearly all aspects of their practice, from encouraging patients to do online research before their appointments to highly valuing two-way conversations with peers when it comes to learning about treatment options. Millennial doctors want collaboration from pharma, too, when it comes to treating patients: 60 percent are more likely to see a pharma sales rep if they offer important programs for their patients. Millennial doctors think the most useful tools pharma can provide are discussion guides (48 percent) and adherence support (40 percent).

What Impacts Treatment Decisions for Millennial Physicians

Millennial physicians find peers to be the biggest influence when considering treatment options, with about half (42 percent) citing educational experiences driven by peers to be the most relevant for learning about new treatments (only 18 percent of non-millennial doctors agreed). Pharma has work to do with this new generation: only 16 percent of millennial physicians found promotion from pharmaceutical manufacturers to be influential when considering a new treatment (compared to 48 percent of older doctors).

While more than half of millennial doctors believe direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising serves to educate patients about new medications, an overwhelming 81 percent of millennial doctors believe that DTC advertising makes their job harder because patients ask for medications they don’t need. But millennial physicians aren’t easily swayed by patient requests: they are much less likely than older doctors to be influenced by patient requests when it comes to prescribing a treatment (23 percent vs. 41 percent, respectively).

“In our research and conversations, we found that if you become a doctor, regardless of whether or not you’re a millennial, there’s at least some desire to serve and protect the health of the others around you,” said Jeanine O’Kane, President of inVentiv Health PR Group, U.S. “There are certainly shared values, but millennial doctors today also are creating an environment that matches up with their generation’s unique characteristics and values. These are critical insights that will help shape the future of how pharma engages with physicians.”

To read more about Generation Y doctors, the ways in which they differ from their non-millennial colleagues, and how pharma brands can engage more effectively with this key audience, download “Millennial Mindset: The Collaborative Clinician.”


The millennial physician survey was conducted by Fuel Insights on behalf of inVentiv Health. There were 100 millennial (ages 26-36) physician respondents and 100 non-millennial (older than 36 years) physician respondents to the online survey fielded in the U.S. between April and May 2016.

About GSW, inVentiv Health PR Group and PALIO

GSW is a full-service healthcare communications agency that goes beyond advertising to create personalized brand experiences that involve, inspire, educate and activate people through ongoing brand journeys. Building partnerships with pharmaceutical, biotech and health-and-wellness clients in 18 major markets around the world, GSW creates marketing solutions through a comprehensive and wide array of services.

inVentiv Health PR Group helps launch brands and build the reputations of companies working to improve human health. With an integrated approach to communications, inVentiv Health Public Relations Group includes four agencies – Allidura Consumer, Biosector 2, Chamberlain Healthcare PR, and Chandler Chicco Agency – that offer best-in-class capabilities spanning public relations, digital and social media, medical and scientific education, and analytics and measurement.

PALIO is an advertising agency that ignites brands in bold and beautifully disruptive ways. The agency is known for elevating client’s brand stories to communicate high science in meaningful ways, creating innovative experiences that balance business objectives with audience goals and engaging audiences across multiple channels.

Integration of advertising, public relations and medical communications agencies at inVentiv Health drives complete communications solutions that build corporate and brand value and deliver on the bottom line.

inVentiv Health, Inc. is a global professional services organization designed to help the biopharmaceutical industry accelerate the delivery of much-needed therapies to market. Our combined Clinical Research Organization (CRO) and Contract Commercial Organization (CCO) offer a differentiated suite of services, processes and integrated solutions that improve client performance. With more than 14,000 employees and the ability to operate in more than 90 countries, we enable clients to successfully navigate an increasingly complex environment. Learn more at

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