Clinical Trials: 8 Reasons Researchers Should Pay Attention to Millennials

More than 25% of the US adult population are Millennials. At 83.1 million, a bigger cohort than Baby Boomers,1 Millennials are gaining leadership in their employment, having children (30% are parents)2 and becoming extremely influential both culturally and financially.

Events that have influenced this generation include the 9-11 terrorist attack, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the release of the iPhone in 2007, and the election of our first African American president.Another key experience has been the Great Recession. Many Millennials entered the job market during the great recession. Sixty-seven percent of college graduates have outstanding student loans. This group is marrying later due to their financial struggles.4

Being constantly connected with vast amounts of information literally at their fingertips, Millennials are Internet, mobile device, and social media natives. These innovations have shaped their lives and outlook.3

This generation has higher levels of education, is more ethnically and racially diverse, and is more liberal than previous generations.1 Having lived through the great recession and seen the impact on their families, the majority of this group favors government health insurance (65%) and sees health as a right, not a privilege.5

Their numbers and their distinctive mindset are unique to traditional models of healthcare, but, if acknowledged early, can be taken into account when developing and implementing clinical trials. Here are eight Millennial characteristics for life science companies to consider.

  1. Need for increased diversity:  Because Millennials are much more diverse than previous generations-over 40% of Millennials are part of a minority group-diversity in clinical trials will be even more important for the life science industry.2
  2. Time is money mentality: Millennials are part of the gig economy. As they are only paid for the time they work, they don’t have time to wait. This attitude makes them more favorable to using retail and acute care clinics where their wait times are shorter.  They utilize primary care physicians (61%) less than seniors (85%) and boomers (80%).5  Clinical trial design will necessitate utilizing efficient and easily accessible settings to attract Millennials.  Trials that reduce travel and time away from regular activities will be more appealing as well.
  3. Increased utilization of technology: Digital technology is an essential part of life for Millennials. They expect tech savvy physicians, online portals and easy access to their records.6 According to a survey in 2017 by Jefferson Health, 71% want their physician to provide a mobile app for actively managing their care. In that same survey, 63% were interested in using a wearable app accessible to their physician to monitor their health.Including wearable sensors and health apps in clinical trials would appeal to Millennials.
  4. Not defined by geography: A survey conducted by Salesforce in 2015 found that almost 60% of Millennials were interested in telemedicine. This openness provides opportunities for clinical trials to be less defined by geographical constraints, again increasing their accessibility.8
  5. Reliant on websites and trusted contacts for health information: A survey of 2400 adults found that only 41% of Millennials thought of their physician as their primary health information source. In fact, 30% relied on blogs and message boards for health information.2 Building a relationship with Millennials is important and will require a strong, transparent presence on social media. Reaching Millennials for clinical trials should be through websites and social media sites like Instagram.
  6. Need for information transparency:  Millennials access information online: they do their banking online, pay bills online and, in one survey, 83% of Millennials expected to be able to retrieve their patient records easily online.7 Issues around transparency motivate Millennials to request and receive estimates for medical treatments.6 Millennials share their medical information online and their treatment experiences. In one study, 75% stated that they look at reviews on Yelp and Healthgrades to determine what physicians and other providers to utilize.To attract Millennials to clinical trials transparency on costs, providers, and the process will be essential. Millennials will desire involvement in developing clinical trial protocols. Moreover, they will expect to receive information on the results of clinical trials.
  7. Interested in holistic approaches and delay seeing physicians:  Using online self-help resources, Millennials concern themselves with health and wellness maintenance through lifestyle choices that they believe will have a long-term payoff.10 Their avoidance of physicians is related to factors including long wait times and cost of treatment. According to one survey, expense has forced 54% of Millennials to postpone or even forego treatment.Clinical trials will need to reduce cost to the patient in time and travel.
  8. Educated: Millennials are the best educated cohort of young adults across living generations in the US.3 Because of this, they will ask questions, share information they have researched and expect to be fully informed of everything that occurs in a clinical trial.

Millennials are the most technologically engaged generation yet. Their children, an even more ethnically mixed group, will be as savvy and informed. Forward thinking life science companies will evolve communication, delivery and design of clinical trials to meet this change in generations. Addressing these features of Millennials should be part of the life science industry’s agenda.

See our case study, “Finding the Rarest of the Rare for Market Research.”

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