Today’s TED talk is a retrospective one from TEDMED 2010 in San Diego, California, by Thomas Goetz, author of The Decision Tree and, more recently, The Remedy.
Thomas opens with the stated problem that, even with a diagnosis, there is a problem with behavior change – patients taking the pills they need to, or making the lifestyle change recommended. The crux in Mr. Goetz view is the notion of decision-making. He cites dentistry as the one field that has cured this issue of patient compliance – people do brush and floss, by and large.
A Connecticut dentist experiment showed that fear, telling patients all about how their teeth would fall out and corn-on-the-cob would be gone, was shown to have no effect on dental results. Rather, patients who said “yes, I will floss more, I have that ability” were in fact able to floss more.
Goetz’s timeline for good patients starts with presenting data to patients, personalizing it, and providing a roadmap to better health. He points to the instant-feedback speed limit signs that are more powerful than any amount of speed traps – again, personal information is better than the fear of a ticket.
Goetz presents the “Drug Box” developed at Dartmouth, that presents information about drugs the same way we do Cap’n Crunch cereal – including hard percentages on side effects and applications. Personalizing information to the reader works better than a wall of light-white text at the bottom of a smiling old white person in a pharma ad.
Goetz’s vision is the changing of the guard, from the dull black-on-white test results we have now, to a visual, color-based summary that shows risks as well as steps the patient can take to improve their scores – gamifying your very health outcomes.
There are four questions Goetz implores patients to ask at the end of any medical interaction:
1) Can I have my results?
2) What does this mean?
3) What are my options? What Choices are on the table?
4) What’s Next? How do I integrate these choices into my life?
Goetz’s thesis wraps thusly: People are not stupid, if you present them with information in a useful form, and they can get better – if the framing is that of engagement, rather than compliance.