Columbus, OH — Matt, Mike and I recently teamed up to build a presentation on ten of the most intriguing trends we’re following right now. The big ideas and little clues filled a room.

The one I think is most intriguing for really connecting with busy doctors and everyday people alike is this one: Constantly Divided Attention.

It’s a behavior we once called multi-tasking, but today that always-on, anywhere, anytime behavior has left our culture in a permanent state of mild (to major) distraction. The challenge is even greater in medicine where new screens, new tools, new requirements, and the fast growth of information are leaving doctors overloaded and only partially connected.

It’s opening new gaps in human connection, information retention and accuracy. In fact, research shows that multitasking increases the chances of making mistakes and missing important information and cues. People with constantly divided attention are also less likely to retain information in working memory, which can hinder problem solving and creativity. (Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life, from Harvard Health Publications)

For our healthcare professionals, constant distraction means two new challenges in the practice: fitting learning in and looking people in the eye.

Fitting learning in

The team at Palio-Ignite created an interesting healthcare professional layer over some recent data from Google about when people use their various devices.

The new curves show traffic to healthcare professional websites by device and time of day. Look at that big spike in tablet usage right around 8PM. That doctor may be browsing our content, but chances are her daughter is also nearby watching Frozen for the 30th time, her husband is relaying the day’s news and her dog is whining to get outside. Not exactly study hall. That snapshot reflects the bigger changes that Manhattan Research has been tracking for a while. Doctors are using mobile devices to fit clinical learning in before and after work (69% use smartphones for that purpose; 56% tablets); on weekends (63% smartphones; 58% tablets) and in-between patient visits (48% smartphones; 26% tablets).

They’re up against pretty big odds. New medical knowledge is already doubling every three years and projected to double every 73 days by 2020.

Looking people in the eye

Between staring at computers during the work day and regularly gazing down at our phones, people are spending more time with their eyes glued to their screens than ever before. There are two groups particularly who are making even less eye contact: doctors (because electronic health records demand so much of their in-exam attention) and Millennials.

That lack of eye contact is having a big impact on human connections. Today, adults make eye contact between 30-60% of the time in a typical conversation, but emotional connection is built when eye contact is made during 60-70% percent of a conversation. (Quantified Impressions, 2013).

One family physician, Dr. Ken Grauer, described that experience this way: “My impressions from speaking to friends who have been patients is that nowadays they rarely get the doctor’s undivided attention because of doctor focus on the computer.” Manhattan quantified it, saying that physicians who use EHR spend an average of 2.7 hours per day using the tools.

I would leave you with this. But I know you’ve long since jumped tabs, switched devices and raced on to the next emergency at hand!

Real Simple article.

Posted by: Leigh Householder

About the Author:

As Managing Director of Innovation and Insights for Syneos Health Communications, Leigh is responsible for building and scaling a global team of healthcare experts who together help life science leaders better understand the complex lives, influences and expectations of their customers. Specifically, they uncover actionable insights that fuel empathy and creativity; lead co-creation events that let marketers learn from peers, trends, and new possibilities; and help clients identify the most valuable and useful new customer experiences to create.

Leigh has worked with Fortune 1000 companies to craft their digital, mobile, social and CRM strategies for nearly 20 years.She’s worked for category-leading agencies in retail, public affairs, B2B technology, and higher education. Prior to moving to Syneos Health Communications, she held several leadership roles at our largest agency, GSW.  There, she founded an innovation practice fueled by the zeitgeist and spearheaded digital and innovation thinking across the business.

Leigh has taken a special interest in complex healthcare products that can change lives in meaningful ways. She was recently a strategic lead on the 3rd largest launch in pharmaceutical history: Tecfidera. Before that she had keys roles with Eli Lilly Oncology, Abbott Nutrition, Amgen Cardiovascular, and Eli Lilly Diabetes.

A critical part of Leigh’s work is trends and new ideas. Every year, she convenes a group of trend watchers from across our global network to identify the shifts most critical to healthcare marketers. This year, she led over 250 experts to experts to focus on the most important changes in the commercial, consumer, marketing, digital and healthcare landscapes. (See reports at

Leigh is a sought-after writer and speaker. Recognized as one of the most inspiring people in the pharmaceutical industry by PharmaVoice and Top 10 Innovation Catalysts of 2017 by MM&M, Leigh also was recognized  as a Rising Star by the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) for her overt passion, industry thought leadership and significant contributions in new business, strategy and mentoring.