Now Reading: Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive (many analogies to health care)

This book was recommended to me not by one but two different generations of interesting people, David Sobel, MD (not on Twitter yet, but here’s one of my most popular tweets that features him), and Sophie Raseman (@raseman) – us Gen Xers sometimes need to get in the flow of the Gen Y/Baby Boomer lovefest.

Next time, Kimpton, try relevant peer comparisons

There’s a perfect illustration of some of the techniques that this book discusses in the photograph on the left. In it, you can see the customary appeal to recycle towels (now apparently called “bath linens”), complete with blue lonely planet logo. Poor Kimpton Hotels, though, they didn’t know that if they added just a few words to the sign they might get better participation – 26% better if they indicated that the majority of other guests had reused their towels and 33% better if the indicated that the guests staying in the same room had reused their towels, I mean bath linens. Knowing this data, it has been interesting to see if and whether hotels leverage it – it’s a case study in diffusion of innovation. Kimpton, not diffused. Starwood is even more aggressive, they simply let you know that your choice is to recycle unless you inform the hotel operator that you would not like to.

And so it continues, with 49 other examples. A few that I liked:

  • Active written commitments – asking a patient to write down the time and date of their next appointment at the reception desk is likely to be more effective than writing it down on a card and giving it to them.
  • The value of a favor over time – when someone does a favor for another person, the value of the favor in the eyes of the favor-doer increases or time, for the favor-receiver, it decreases. Therefore, when it comes time to return the favor, honoring the past favor may be a good idea, even if it seems that the favor received was not as needed through the retrospectoscope.
  • Not being the smartest person in the room – Watson and Crick, who discovered the secret of life (DNA), acknowledged that they were not the smartest scientists working on the problem (Rosalind Franklin was), and this trait caused them to seek input. People who see themselves as the most able problem solvers fail to seek input, and in this case, to announce to bar patrons in 1953 that they had discovered the secret of life.

A lot of these techniques are obvious, and with the awareness that they exist, I can see them a lot in the places I go….except in health care. As far as I know, many doctors are not taught how to persuade people to do things beyond writing a doctor’s order.

What would it be like for a physician to be able to say, honestly, “80% of the patients who were in this exam room before you chose to significantly change their diet,” instead of “I’d like you to change your diet.” And if they couldn’t honestly say 80%, they should understand why.

What would it be like for a health system to create a health statement, patterned on the OPOWER electricity relevant peer comparisons, showing how other patients in a medical practice are achieving their health goals/life goals, instead of how they are deficient in their care gaps?

You tell me…comments welcome.

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