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Healthcare Marketers: You Need to Unplug

Gopi Kallayil, chief evangelist for brand marketing at Google, has a simple question for healthcare marketers and strategists:

How many organs are there in the human body?

Answer: 78.

But the 79th one? The smartphone. At first, it seems like a bit of stretch, but think about how much we touch it, talk to it, and for some of us—sleep with it.

And this relationship that we have with this “organ” can dictate the happiness (or for some, unhappiness) with our day-to-day lives.

There are now more than 7.2 billion devices out there—outnumbering the number of people in the world. But Kallayil reminds us to not forget about the most sophisticated, complex technology we all have: our brains. And we need to use our brains better to dictate how all this technology is affecting our attention span and the relationship we have with our inner selves.

Kallayil offers the following tips to help do just that:

1. Focus on the essential. “The things that matter most should never be at the mercy of the things that matter least,” says Johann Wolfgang van Goethe. Kallayil urges healthcare executives to come up with three to five things that matter the most in their professional and personal lives—and to prioritize their lives around those things. Everything else is a distraction.

2. Stop multitasking. If you’ve got six tabs up right now, close them out. Focus on this article. Kallayil asks: “If your heart surgeon said to you, ‘Hey, while I’m performing heart surgery on you, I’m going to have the baseball game on and trade stocks, is that OK?’” Obviously, no. Pause and take notice of all the times you lose your train of thought or find that your body is in one place, but your mind is someplace else. If you take notice, you’ll realize how often this happens.

3. Take one breath a day. When Kallayil was in college, he went to a retreat to become a trained yoga/meditation practitioner. He liked it so much, he decided he would meditate every single day for the rest of his life. This lasted three days. It bothered him that he couldn’t keep up with it, but later in life, a colleague encouraged him to take one breath a day. He could do that … and then found out he could do a little bit more. If you’re interested in meditating, start with the lowest threshold and build up to your practice.

4. Stop letting your calendar get hijacked. You know the drill: You’ve got open spaces, but then suddenly, someone from your team fills them up. That’s why Kallayil specifically blocks out time on his calendar, just for him—whether it’s yoga, meditation, or exercise. Don’t let someone else prioritize your day.

5. Friend yourself. You might have thousands of Twitter followers, but the most important friend you’ll have is yourself. That’s why you need to befriend yourself. Be the kind of friend who wants to follow you.

Kallayil concludes, “Listen to the tweet of your heartbeat, the status update from your body, and chat request coming from your brain.”

Want to learn more? Exclusive benefit for Forum Members: Watch Gopi Kallayil’s keynote session from the 23rd Annual Healthcare Marketing & Physician Strategies Summit.

Jessica Levco is a contributing writer for Healthcare Strategy Alert and the Forum for Healthcare Strategists blog.

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