Physicians Are People Too!

Updated: Jan 15, 2020

In the marketing world we typically think of a doctor based on their specialty, location, practice type, and National Provider Identifier (NPI). Very rarely do we perceive them as an individual.  Because doctors work in the hyper-focused health and wellness sphere, we tend to target them only when they are gathering information on their career. As we end 2019, the pharma world has finally recognized doctors beyond who or what they treat. 

The emergence of millennials in the practice setting is a big contributor to this rapid 180-degree shift. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Millennial generation will be 75% of the total workforce by 2030. This is a generation that knows only Wikipedia for their primary source of ‘credible’ information.  Google and Amazon take on the role of the Dewey Decimal system, providing instant access to information. So how could we assume doctors are only on professional sites like Medscape or Doximity? 

Underscore’s Senior Director, Global Media Lead Jay De La Cruz identified the following trends that are driving this philosophical change:

‘Doctors are looking for simple and clear solutions to help them with their workflow and we need to accept and understand that. We need to think about their media habits in terms of behavior and preference.’

Not surprisingly, time is a commodity. Physicians do not have time to look around for content that is difficult to find (sound familiar?).  For years Underscore has been tying physicians to search behavior to understand how they differ from the patient/caregiver. The answer: physicians search on many of the same sites.

From a recent Doximity HCP panel event, one doctor said, “I’m looking for a solution that helps streamline my life because I have no time for fluff.” 

Millennials who are entering the healthcare workforce aren’t suddenly leaving their phone at the door.  Mobile is their lifeline. This means the content gap between patients and physicians is shrinking. We need to start thinking of content in bite-size digestible pieces. 

Doctors are consumers. As we understand them more, we can step outside the default endemic targeting without being invasive.  If we accept Amazon hoodie reminders (we really don’t need but want), we can keep doctors informed in a tactful manner. 

As we enter 2020 the days where a physician has the time to read a 20-page journal article between patients has been replaced with browsing their phone or tablet for the latest news and advances. With the age gap between doctors ranging generations, it is time we start thinking about their media behaviors. 


Chris Tuleya // EVP, Managing Director at Underscore Marketing - a worldwide strategic media company providing ROI solutions in the health & wellness, healthcare and pharma space.

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