With the inaugural Improving the Patient Experience Conference approaching, we sat down with Professor Moyez Jiwa, Associate Dean of the Melbourne Clinical School at the University of Notre Dame Australia, to discuss his research and how technology can improve the patient experience.
Can you tell me about your research?
My research explores ways to improve outcomes for chronic and complex
conditions by ‘triggering’ healthy behaviours. There is limited evidence that many of the interventions available to GPs effectively promote weight management or smoking cessation. By working with ‘nudge’ techniques that assume a significant level of motivation and where it is possible for people to learn new habits we can make a difference to the number of people who will successful make better choices. In addition we need to work with people for incremental change in their behaviour and at a pace that can sustain their motivation. This means working very closely to identify which of their choices lead to bad outcomes whether with annual weight gain or by sabotaging their efforts to quit other harmful behaviours.
What led you to research this area?
I became interested in this area after I graduated from BJ Fogg’s design academy at Stanford University. Fogg developed an approach to behaviour changed summarised by the formula B = MAT where B= Behaviour, M= Motivation, A=Ability and T = Trigger. So where motivation and ability are high, a simple trigger can often lead to behaviour change. I was also inspired by the work of Daniel Kahneman and others involved in behavioural economics in which they demonstrate, often with commercial examples, how people can be ‘nudged’ to make different choices in life.
What has been the impact of apps and wearable technology on how patients experience care?
So far apps and wearable technology have had a limited impact on the patient experience. However we are a long way off from the sort of technological innovations that will build on the early prototypes currently on the market. For example if you can be shown things that are not immediately obvious and that could with relatively simple changes of behaviour improve very considerably you might be ‘triggered’ to aim for those goals. At the moment apps tell you that you are overweight, breathless and haven’t slept well as if you didn’t already know that. However supposing an app could tell you how you would look at the end of six months if you keep eating that cake everyday, or if an app could tell you that you were passing microscopic amounts of blood in your bowel motions or glucose in your urine or that your arteries were showing signs of occlusion- then we might see significant improvements in health related outcomes.
Effective communication is one of the big hurdles in the patient journey. What are some of the key mistakes doctors make when they communicate with their patients?
Doctors are failing to engage patients in all five sense- they are failing to consider what people see, hear, feel, smell and taste when they attend the clinic. At the moment going to the doctor is a chore. Going to a hairdresser, manicurist or masseuse is a pleasure. We are prepared to pay the latter we resist the idea of paying more to visit doctors. We continue to experience poor outcomes in chronic and complex conditions because we are not effectively triggered to make more healthy choices.
Are there any presentations at the Improving the Patient Experience Conference that you are looking forward to seeing and why?
I am especially looking forward to the session on Thursday afternoon on the ‘seamless customer experience’ – how other industries engage with their customers and what medicine can learn from that.
Professor Moyez Jiwa will be discussing how technology can make doctor’s more effective communicators at the Improving the Patient Experience Conference. For more information, including our current agenda, please head to our website.