In almost every industry, services and products work best when they focus on people. By understanding your consumers’ needs, goods and services can be developed with the potential to improve lives, even in a small way.
This is particularly true in healthcare. Person-centred care – where patients are empowered to take an active role in their health and are involved in shaping services, treatments and support – is widely seen as a leading bastion of quality care. Research shows that when patients feel heard and valued and are treated with empathy, they are likely to have greater trust in their care team, complete their course of treatment, and benefit from improved mental and emotional wellbeing.
But to achieve true patient-centricity in care, those who work within the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries need to fully recognise what it means to live with ill-health. This isn’t always possible through more traditional learning methods, which is why I created A Life in a Day, an award-winning immersive simulation to support greater patient-centricity within health systems and ultimately, make a difference to patients’ lives.
Developing experiences to foster greater empathy and understanding
When you live with a chronic or life-limiting health condition it affects every part of your life. Symptoms, treatments and side effects can all play a part in how you feel and manage your day from morning to night. These can impact on so much more than health; influencing whether you feel able to take a promotion at work, go on holiday, or even just have the energy to cook an evening meal.
Without an understanding of what life is really like for people living with chronic conditions, it becomes much more difficult to offer support, share appropriate information and advice, provide the right level of care in the right way and develop new treatments that fit their needs.
While traditional learning programmes tend to focus on increasing participants’ knowledge and expertise, A Life in a Day focuses on learning through emotion. It’s not enough for people to know what living with a condition is like, we want them to know how it feels.
Do you know what it’s like to experience regular shortness of breath or swelling of your ankles? How would you feel if you had to plan each day around where the nearest bathroom is? It’s questions like this that A Life in a Day will help you answer. Those answers won’t always be convenient, but they will always be based in truth.
Creating emotional connections to inspire and elicit behaviour change
Our company has a background in theatre and film, we know the best way to inspire people to change is to move them emotionally. It’s how we develop deeper connections with others and increase our empathy and understanding.
A Life in a Day, our award-winning learning and development programme, was designed to achieve exactly this. Forget formal training methods, our programme fully immerses participants in a patient’s world through an innovative smartphone app. From the moment they wake up until the moment they go to bed, participants will participate in interactive challenges and live role play, listen and watch patient interviews and use props and hidden wearables. This allows participants to step into the shoes of the people they are trying to help by compelling them to act, talk and feel like they have a chronic condition.
Created hand-in-hand with patients, it is designed to be completed during a typical working day to reflect the reality of living with a chronic health condition. The choices people make during the simulation determines what happens next, just like in real life and highlights the large and small challenges people with chronic conditions face every day. Immersive experiences like this force professionals to think about the role they can play in helping patients overcome hurdles and inspire them to make those changes.
As healthcare evolves to centre even more firmly around patients, and other industries look to focus much more on the people they serve and the benefits they can offer them, immersive experiences will become increasingly important as a tool by which to understand people’ needs. Experiences like A Life in a Day, which combines mobile learning and ‘live’ interactions to deliver a powerful learning experience. allow participants to build their knowledge and develop person-centric strategies to achieve their goals in a way that will have lasting impact.
About the author:
Mark Doyle is co-founder of The Method, a British learning and development company, and creator of its award-winning, flagship programme, A Life in a Day. A Life in a Day has so far been delivered to more than 4,000 people across 55 countries and in 12 different languages. Find out more here.