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!
Posted by: Leigh Householder