Millennials are transforming the healthcare landscape – and pharmaceutical companies must keep up

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The healthcare industry is in an age of transformation. This is not solely down to novel technologies and scientific advancements: millennial Healthcare Professionals (mHCPs) are also key drivers. 

As with all millennials, mHCPs show different ambitions and behaviours to their predecessors. They have grown up in a heavily-connected world, having access to Google at 10, Facebook at 12 and smartphones at 15. Pharmaceutical companies must understand the changes mHCPs will bring to the industry in order to not only survive but progress and thrive.  

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mHCPs now have immediate access to vast amounts of data and information, with most answers just a swipe of their smartphone away. This means students now have the opportunity turn some of their attention away from simply memorising facts and broadening their education and experiences in other ways. Even the NHS are encouraging professionals to spend time away from clinical practice and pursue other opportunities such as enrolling in their Clinician Entrepreneur Programme. According to research by Indigenus Network, 31% are hoping to become involved in entrepreneurial work, with 2% of mHCPs currently being involved. This has resulted in increasingly more biotech start-ups being established, often led by mHCPs.

Not only do mHCPs show entrepreneurial spirit, they are also much more collaborative than their predecessors. For example, when Dr James Bradner and his team decided to share the chemical identity of a new molecule at the prototype stage, creating a large collaborative network which achieved far greater advancement than they would have been able to alone. The discovery of this new molecule now has the potential to treat a rare form of cancer.

What does this mean for pharmaceutical companies?

In short, it requires them to adopt a more collaborative attitude. Pharmaceutical companies will become more involved in synergic initiatives, as some already have. One example is Lilly, who in 2009 launched PD2, a free portal enabling scientists to have their compounds screened against phenotypic, disease-relevant assays that were already established within Lilly.

To keep up with the rise of mHCP driven biotech, pharmaceutical companies are shifting away from typical “powerhouse” tech companies for partnerships. They are beginning to understand the benefits of investing in smaller, more focused, biotech companies whose knowledge and technology can aid their existing portfolios. Allergan and Merck & Co are two who have already established start-up investment programs.

What does this increasing number of mHCPs mean for communications?

mHCPs, having grown up in a world of constant connectivity, are now looking to social media to communicate with patients and other physicians. This will mean new platforms involving the sharing of ideas and open discussion of various treatments, and it will undoubtedly provide new opportunities for collaborative partnerships between pharmaceutical companies and individuals.

Overall, millennials want to change the world. To work alongside mHCPs, pharmaceutical companies must focus even more on their patients and offer them new ways to solve their problems. 


Seren Orsman

Work Experience Student

Seren gained a 2.1 degree from Cambridge University in Natural Sciences and is now exploring careers within the Healthcare Communications environment. She joined MSLGROUP for a two week work placement in September 2016.

more articles by Seren Orsman

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