Philadelphia, PA — One Fall day, in the big open ballroom of one Hilton or another, eight conference speakers took turns answering a seemingly simple question: how do we engage these new digitally-empowered healthcare consumers?

The answer I remember came from doctors Danny Sands (CISCO) and Ted Eytan (Kaiser Permanente). They said it’s simple:

If you want people to participate more in their healthcare, you have to start by finding physicians who actually want them to do so.

Their frustration was with a gap in everyday healthcare that most people don’t even notice: The difference in care provided by doctors just doing their jobs and those actively engaged with their patients.

They challenged everyone who was listening to expect more:

  • If your doctor doesn’t use electronic medical records – and encourage you to access and understand them – find a new doctor.
  • If your doctor isn’t interested in what you’re reading about your condition online, find a new doctor.
  • If your doctor doesn’t use connected technologies to communicate with you outside the exam room, find a new doctor.

It’s an issue that’s bigger than doctors, bigger than any individual healthcare system.

What Sands and Eytan uncovered is a new divide in healthcare. It’s not the haves and have nots; not the sick and the well; or even the digitally-connected and unconnected. Instead, it’s in the culture of the providers we choose.

It’s the divide between the companies, individuals and practices that invest in very human experiences around the moment of care and those that do not. It’s the gap between the ones that build the new interactions people want and those that do not.

Think about that question way beyond the exam room:

  • Does the brand that makes your diabetes drug deliver it in a super simple auto injector that looks like it was designed by Apple? Or do they expect you to manage a handful of vials and tools to measure each dose?
  • Does your urgent care queue you up in a long line? Or do you swipe a card to easily check-in, airline-style?
  • Does your pharmacy automatically fill every prescription you bring in or do they ask hard questions and help you figure out how it all works together?

That’s the code to crack. The difference between communicating and connecting. Finding the kind of “experience” that changes everything.

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.