This week we had a special guest speaker, Ian Hargraves, a CMU Alumnus and Design Researcher for the Mayo Clinic. He spoke about the work that they are performing on improving patient-doctor communication and how that relates to the topic of persuasion, in addition, he held a workshop with the students.

Conversation Design in Healthcare

Ian talked about the importance of the interactions between the patient and doctors and the difficulties and miscommunication that can occur during these events. The focus on these interactions is identifying what is the right thing to do for the patient, the goal, and to identify this many factors and influences have to take into consideration (ex. home environment + actions). He spoke about the importance of understanding how the patient is affected emotional, physical and socially so that there is a shared decision making and identifying that ultimately mattered to the patient.


The students participated in a workshop where the exercise revolved around role-playing a conversation between the doctor and patient. The students were assigned roles and the student who was playing the patient was given a prompt with background about who they are. Then the student who was playing the doctor would start the conversation by saying “What can I do for you today?”This exercise demonstrated the ambiguity that conversations can have and the difficulties and stress that patients experience taking to find the asked and solutions they need when there are many aspects of their lives that could be important to talk about in a limited amount of time.

The students did the same exercise a second time switching roles and patient promopts. This time the student playing the patient filled out a form that was developed by the Mayo Clinic, which is to help facilitate conversations. The student found it easier to have targeted conversations with additional information from the form.

Tags: conversation design, healthcare, persuasion