Decluttering People  Engagement

Because engagement is broader than just the patient



Earlier this year I was introduced to The KonMari Method™, developed by best selling author Marie Kondo.

The method, in it’s simplest form, is a “new approach to decluttering based on Japanese values in order to surround yourself with items that spark joy“.


Whilst I can’t profess  to have completely been indoctrinated  by the method (my wardrobe being the key giveaway on that front) it did make me search for various business principles where “decluttering” would be advantageous.

Of all the de-cluttering healthcare threads that started to form in my mind (which there are many), one stood out as an over-sized neon sign: engaging with patients / non-scientific personnel. 

I guess the chapter in the Pharma KonMari but would be entitled:


Make it simple. Cut the crap. Get to the point.


And this crude, but to the point statement, holds true for everyone in pharma, not just the patient.


And so, in the spirit of decluttering, I am going to KonMari this introduction and get straight into 3 interesting developments in decluttering communications.


#1: use video and mOm more

A recent article by Adrian A. Smith in Nature entitled “YouTube your science” (17Apr2018) is a great example of decluttering.



Adrian realised that the way to communicate science to non-scientists is flawed. His answer: an unscripted video chat with his mother, with “Mom” (Cindy) providing live feedback on anything topic / point she did not understand.

The Nature article can be found here:


And the YouTube video here:



Within the Nature article Adrian goes on to describe how he re-thought the publication process and how he found his path to the public (**spoiler alert: he uses digital media**) and how the process of making (simple) videos dramatically opened up his research to the world.

Using simple-to-follow and visually appealing video to engage with non-subject matter experts isn’t anything new.  Seeking continual feedback to refine the messages for this non-specialist audience is, and this act of simplifying the message for this specific audience has yielded in a lot more interest to Adrian’s research.


Now, talking about research and publications, that brings me nicely on to:


#2: visualise scientific data better

It’s time for software to facilitate the scientific discussion



Most of us will have experienced this: an abstract shared with some interesting conclusions – yet the full publication bamboozles with jargon and complicated graphical elements.

To the experts in the field (for whom this publication is probably intended) the jargon is well founded and par for the course.

To everyone else, ranging from the semi-specialists (i.e. scientifically trained) to the patient cohorts mentioned in the publication, we all just get lost.


An article published on The Atlantic entitled “The Scientific Paper is Obsolete” by James Somers recounts the frustrations with communicating on paper / PDF versus a dynamic medium with computer software.


Somers recounts that the earlier papers were


…”more readable than papers are today. They were less specialised, more direct, shorter and far less formal”. 


…”Papers today are longer than ever and full of jargon and symbols”… 


And in a conversation with Bret Victor (an ex-researcher on Apple’s iPad), Victor mentions that scientists haven’t yet taken full advantage of the computer. The PDF remains king for communicating scientific results and Somers sums up the situation nicely “…Maybe we can do better”.


Now, I am not saying that complex theories, study results and expert opinions need to be dumbed-down. Here the message is simply: utilise software better to declutter the journal. The first scientific publishing group that does this will be onto a winner.


And finally, and for me the most important patient engagement must do for 2018


#3 Let the patient dictate the conversation

Patients are in charge!

This topic remains as an idea, but a magical one at that:

On the 18th April the eyeforpharma LinkedIn account posted this message:


The plan is to hand the patient the pharma-baton at the upcoming eyeforpharma summit in London (October 2018).


This has the potential to “SpaceX” patient engagement providing bought-in patient speakers don’t steal the voice from other patients.


Taking the KonMari approach and decluterring the usual topics and having the patient create, design and host the congress could end up in some real sparks of joy. We wait in anticipation for this event.




Photo by Khai Sze Ong on Unsplash