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Make it easy

By Dr. Colin Coulthard |

Have you ever had one of those moments when you’re trying to get to sleep and you suddenly realise that you’ve forgotten to do something really important?

 

For me, it’s usually paying an important bill, or returning a telephone call.

 

The thing is, I mean to do it, I really do. And then I get distracted, and it doesn’t get done. And then three weeks later, I suddenly remember whilst I’m lying in bed trying to go to sleep.



In this blog post, I’m going to explain how understanding why this happens could help us in healthcare. I’m also going to give a concrete example of how working smarter could have made a recent announcement have a far greater impact...

Have I got your attention yet?

As anyone in sales will tell you, the first step towards making a sale is getting someone’s attention. This is why car manufacturers used to drape their creations in scantily clad models at motor shows. This is also why marketing men spend so much money on adverts. This is why a shop that has large “footfall” costs more than one which doesn’t. Incidentally, this is why people who create content that grabs people’s attention get paid a lot of money. It is called interruption marketing. Something is drawn to your attention and then tries to hold it.

Once you’ve got someone’s attention, the next step is to convert it into taking an action. To do this you want to motivate them to take action. You do this by showing them the benefits of taking the action. At the same time, you want to make it easy to do. Making it easier includes the ability to do it immediately, removing unnecessary steps, and rewarding the action.

We want to make it easy for you

At itamus, we aim to make things as easy as possible.

Want people to use resources? Put them all in one place for people to find.

Want people to know what blood pressure target to be aiming for? Make it as easy as possible to work out.

Want clinicians to know when to refer for suspected cancer? Let people search for it based on the way that they'll use it.

Want patients to be measuring their blood pressure? Build an app that makes it as easy as possible for them to do so.

The problem is that for most people their motivation to do something is fleeting. The harder it is to do something, the more likely they are to be distracted...

Hence I set out with the best of intentions of filling out my tax return, and I still end up in a cold sweat the night before the deadline.

Missed opportunity

Today, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges released a list of medical procedures and investigations that are considered useless. They do not benefit patients and they create wasteful work and unnecessary illness. They’re a waste of time. These are an easy goal for the NHS. We can stop doing them, and people will be better off for us not doing them. The very definition of low-hanging fruit.

This story has been all over google search, my twitter feed, and my facebook pages. It’s also been on the front page of almost every news website. But yesterday I couldn’t find the list of procedures. Even today it’s not obviously available on the Academy of Royal Colleges website.

The academy missed a trick here. The time to get people to look at the list was yesterday, whilst the report was fresh in everyone’s mind. Now the moment has passed.  As the saying goes “today’s news is tomorrow’s fish wrappers.”

An off the shelf website could be set up and running with a custom web address for not very much money at all. Even if it was outsourced we estimate less than £1000. Much less if done in house.

Yesterday the Academy of Royal Colleges got millions of pounds worth of free publicity from the media. With some strategic planning the NHS could have leveraged that free publicity into a head start in getting this message out. In a time of tightening budgets, it’s a shame to miss such open goals.

Perhaps in a few weeks time, someone at the Academy of Royal Colleges or NHS England may find themselves struggling to get to sleep…?

What do you think? Am I being unfair, or was this a missed opportunity. Let us know on Twitter, our Facebook page or in the comments below....

As ever, please share as widely as possible.

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