Behavioural Economics in Health(care)

beA “project colleague” mentioned recently (during a brainstorming discussion) that he encountered difficulties in gaining user adoption for a particular trial and was hoping that a tweak in technology (miniaturizing the device) would help solve the issue.

I went into “consulting mode” and posed a few questions, after which I suggested that he might want to adopt a few basic principles of  behavioural economics as part of the solution.

His first (and to be honest, very typical) reaction was “Is that even a real thing? I’ve never heard of it before”. Because this is such a common response, I kicked into “auto mode’ and suggested that he “google it” and take some time to read up on that subject.

The gentleman came back 15 minutes time thanking me for the suggestion and exclaiming wonders on the subject – because Prof. Richard Thaler recently won Nobel for his work in Behavioural Economics.

Prior to Prof. Richard Thaler winning the Nobel price, this positive reaction was not common at all. I’ve been teaching the basics of Behavioural Economics for quite some time (it is also part of Mini-HI‘s curriculum) and I distinctively remembered my first attempt to deliver the topic in a public lecture (hoping to raise awareness to stakeholders on why their Digital Health projects keep failing and why blaming it on end-users and/or technical folks isn’t the solution).

That particular conference was the mHealth Forum, part of the HIMSS Digital Healthcare Week, Singapore, held back in October 2013. The topic of my presentation? “Behavioral Economics in Consumer Health Informatics – Unleashing Patient Centric Workflow“.

While I did managed to deliver the lecture, getting it through “peer review” was nearly impossible – because the folks reviewing the topics are not real Health Informaticians. To these IT and business folks, I was trying to talk about something irrelevant and the speaking slot was better off given to someone blabbing on the latest buzzwords like Cloud etc. (I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Sarah Grant, the Education Manager at HIMSS Asia Pacific at that time for helping me push the presentation though).

So in a way I am really glad that Prof. Richard Thaler won the Nobel for his work in Behavioural Economics because it has become so easy to convince people to look into this subject.

Now the only “regret” I have in this context is not pushing through on my awareness efforts on cyber security threats in health(care). I published and talk about the subject back in 2004 (I actually have a IT Security qualification) but was repeatedly told by everyone that they are not interested. Ah well, I can’t help them all.

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Context-Driven Innovation

InnovationInnovation has been a recurring topic of late (for me) and the subject came up again earlier today during a casual conversation.

While it is actually quite normal for me to touch on Innovation (I examine Innovation as a topic frequently in public conferences, private training sessions as well as teaching the basics as part of Mini-HI (Mini Health Informatician) what made the conversation special was that I was sharing the core principles on non health(care) related subjects (to be precise, I was applying it to Organisational Improvement and Product Development) and the people I was having the conversation with were very surprised at how the underlying principles are applicable to virtually any disciplines.

The reason(s) being? I was sharing on Context-Driven Innovation and as the name implies, is not only pragmatic but sustainable because it is innovation applied to the underlying needs (hence the contextual part).

To be clear, I didn’t invent the term “Context-Driven Innovation” (because it ready existed when I coined the term), what happened was (due to the nature of my work) I derived a set of “Innovation ideology” over time (through research and relentless practical iterations) and realised that the core principles derived are contextually relevant to the subject applied (hence deciding to call it Context-Driven Innovation).

I did made a determined push on this topic (in this region) back on 3rd August 2016 when I authored the theme (and general scope) for a local Health Innovation related contest / challenge that was aspiring to go regional, although I parted ways with the organising partners, they continued to use my theme of Context-Driven Innovation and some of my contents. To quote a portion of what I wrote back then;

XYZ Challenge 2017 brings together people and organizations across the entire ecosystem to develop new ideas for innovation that will improve the delivery of health and care services for the people (wellness) and patients (healthcare) across the entire continuum of care.

Jointly organized with the A and B the XYZ Challenge 2017 serves as a platform to germinate and empower professionals from the various disciplines to collaborate and leverage each other’s expertise & experience (e.g. Pairing clinicians with techies sharing similar innovation interest) to develop quality solutions that are context-driven as to ensure sustainable adoption, benefiting both the health(care) providers and consumer/patients.

As one can observe, the above paragraphs provides a guideline of sort on some parts of the prescribed Context-Driven Innovation but the context portion is missing. To properly explain the contextual portion, we need to first examine what Innovation is.

A popular definition obtainable off the Internet is the Merriam-Webster dictionary version where Innovation is defined as “a new idea, device, or method; the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices or methods“.

I respectfully disagree.

To truly illustrate the underlying reasons of my disagreement would take time, hence, it will be another topic for another day. What I will try to do here is briefly (and holistically) illustrate why, by giving an example using IoT – which is at the time of writing this article, touted as a great driver of innovation.

To ensure semantic understanding, the definition of IoT (according to Wikipedia) is;

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the inter-networking of physical devices, vehicles (also referred to as “connected devices” and “smart devices”), buildings, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity which enable these objects to collect and exchange data.

Did you know that first IoT device was a Coke machine at Carnegie Melon University in the early 1980s? Let us re-examine Merriam-Webster’s definition where Innovation is defined as “a new idea, device, or method; the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices or methods“.

Simplistically put, IoT is not new but it is indeed a driving force for innovation.

At this point, I would like to introduce my definition of Innovation;

“Innovation is the use of tools (analogue and/or digital) to extend one’s reach (capabilities) or to bridge a gap as to meet an underlying need”.
Dr. Adam CHEE, 2017

So where does the contextual portion comes in? To explain this part, I would invite you to read an older article of mine – Use Case vs. Process vs. Workflow – Which is the secret ingredient?, it briefly illustrates the concept of workflow (which is related but not the same as user-cases or processes).

With the understanding of what workflow truly is, I would like to finish this article by introducing my definition of Context-Driven Innovation;

Context-Driven Innovation is the optimisation of Workflow and (could include) the utilisation of tools (analogue and/or digital) to extend one’s reach (capabilities) or to bridge a gap as to meet an underlying need”.
Dr. Adam CHEE, 2007

Till next time.

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Ramblings: New Cartoon

It is not common knowledge but I would create simple cartoons to illustrate certain concepts, especially if I find myself repeating them often.

Most of these cartoons are not made known to public but I have decided to share with you folks, a new cartoon I’ve created today, on the topic of “How NOT to leverage your Subject Matter Expert”.

(Inspiration source: Consulting clients in health(care) projects as well as from companies I’m helping to venture into China.)

SME

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Will technology replace physicians?

The question of “whether Technology will replace physicians in the near future” was posed to me last week during a commercial discussion and I thought I’ll share my perspective with you folks.

Truth be told, it was not the first time I was asked this question (or its multiple variants – Clinical Decision Support, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data & Analytics, Machine Learning and of course, IBM Watson. For the uninitiated, the various concepts / technology mentioned are actually inter-related).

To illustrate my perspective, I will quote a scene from the movie “Hidden Figures” (a 2016 American biographical drama film on African American female mathematicians who worked at NASA during the Space Race.) 

No worries if you have not watched the movie. Basically, John Glenn, the first American astronaut to orbit the earth did not trust the trajectory and entry points calculations provided by the newly-installed IBM 7090s and insisted that Katherine Johnson (the movie’s protagonist) check and confirm the numbers. If Katherine had determined the calculations provided by the IBM 7090s to be inaccurate, then the mission (to orbit the earth) would be aborted.

That was 1962. I would imagine that the scenario to be somewhat reversed in today’s context where we would insist that any calculations performed by humans be verified by computers.

So where is the part where I proclaim that “Technology replaced Humans”? I didn’t.

The main reason why people post the question of “whether technology will replace physicians in the near future” (and its various variant) is because they;

So why won’t technology replace physicians? To shred some insights, did you know that as late as 1942, a famous medical textbook considered bloodletting appropriate treatment for pneumonia?

What is my point exactly?

Well, the role of physician have been changing over the centuries, the constant introduction of better tools and knowledge only serves to help them do their job better (read: evolution of the medical discipline ) but advancement in the medical discipline will not be uniformed, that’s why bloodletting is still considered by some to be an appropriate treatment for pneumonia as late as 1942.

If you found the above illustration beneficial or enabled you to obtained further insights on the nature of health(care), I suggest you read my whitepaper on Sustainable Adoption in Health Informatics.

Note: Found this article useful? Then do a Good Deed today!

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Updates: Optimising sharing of Updates

Hi everyone,

In order to optimise information flow (in this case – updates from BinaryHealthCare), we decided to tweak the workflow on how we will be disseminating updates through the use of Social Media.

  • Updates via Twitter and LinkedIn will be synchronised
    • The content distributed will be mostly status update and sharing of external content (including events)
    • I understand that some social media experts will cringe at the idea of having the exact same content distributed at Twitter  and LinkedIn (platforms designed for very different purposes), however, we are aiming to keep content shared at a professional level

So what does the above changes means? The idea is to make it easy for anyone interested in what BinaryHealthCare is up to.

  • If one wishes to be kept abreast of what we are doing and/or get new content as and when it is available, follow us via Twitter
  • If one wishes to communicate directly with us (for professional purposes), connect via LinkedIn or drop us an email

The changes are effective as of today so we really hope this help.

Cheers
Adam

 

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Where did time go? Mini-HI

It is close to the middle of March, that means more than a quarter of 2017 has gone by. Now where did all that time go???

Where Did the Time Go

I had a friend in Qatar asking me 2 weeks ago if things are all right with me as I have not been blogging since 20 Dec 2016. Truth is, I have been travelling quite a fair bit for an unusual project -it is not the sort of work I normally undertake but to be honest, I really enjoyed it. The good news is, there is a possibility that this could turn into a long-term engagement so fingers cross.

Now I know that being busy isn’t an excuse for not posting blog entries but if one were to take note, I have been tweeting (the tweets appears on the right side of the “Blog & Tweets” page) and I guess going forward, I’ll be posting more tweets  than blog entries (there is also a commercial reason for this).

I also wish to take the opportunity to share that I will be doing another run of the Mini-HI (Mini Health Informatician) at NUS Singapore next week (teaching is something I really enjoy) and I promise to tweet about it 🙂

Till the next post entry., cheers!

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Happy Holidays!

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