I want to tell you a story about Discovery Interviews

A significant part of the Discovery Interview (DI) process is that care teams need to hear the patient or carer’s story in their own words. By doing so it is considered that the key elements or themes in the story are not presented out of context and that the teams are simply given lists of positive and negative comments.

Whilst this is a valid concern, we also believe that there is increased capital to be gained from taking an additional route of analysis combined with the traditional approach of hearing the patient’s story and patient experiences.

Telling stories is the original and most powerful way of learning and sharing. We do it every day without thinking and it is second nature to us all. Together with a catalogue of psychological evidence that story telling helps us to hold and retain meaning rather than just random data, storytelling also gives us the ability to combine emotion with context and meaning.

For decades comedians have built their repertoire around stories and today commercials that tell a story will get talked out about compared to those that don’t. However, with the evolution of social media such as Twitter, Facebook and corporate blogs, storytelling has evolved radically to where they are now continuous, participatory and interactive.

Yet, in the world of research there remain many factors that inhibit the use of storytelling as a means of communicating key and strategic insight. Not only is the data considered soft but, we have also become accustomed to endless flat PowerPoint presentations which are not only difficult to absorb but also remember. As David Smith of DVLSmith says  “…neuroscience has confirmed what good presenters have known for ages: namely, that tapping into the audience’s emotions – not unfolding tedious blocks of boring data – is the way to engage and captivate an audience.”

Nevertheless, stories must be selected carefully and that there needs to be a clear purpose behind them. Stories must illustrate a strategic message and without that message telling the story is pointless.

So where does this lead us with regards to DI’s in understanding the patient’s experiences?

At DHP Research our focus is on the integration of the themes with the actual stories but, in doing so the stories are viewed within the context of archetypal groups of patients and carers that emerge from the analysis of the raw data. In other words patient/carer pattern identification.

So starting off with the raw data obtained through DI’s, we begin to identify the various themes emerging from the interview transcripts as we would with the traditional approach to the analysis of DI’s. However, where our approach differs is that once identified, these themes can, through working with our client groups in facilitated workshops, be clustered into 4-5 identifiable patient/carer groups.

The process can be taken a stage further where these groups are more personalised by given them names, for example from popular culture. The individual stories can then be integrated within these themed groups as powerful exemplars of their experiences and behaviours and which can be shown to front-line staff and management.

The advantage of this approach is that the groups that emerge can become part of the organisations narrative, rather than some traditional approach to group segmentation. In doing so these patient/carer groups become more clearly defined in terms of their experiences, behaviours and attitudes that can act as benchmarks in the measurement of any improvements resulting from changes in the delivery of the service as well as for training purposes. Flat and boring presentations of survey findings can be brought to life by adding patient stories enriching both conversation and understanding of results.

Stories are important and always have been but, their power to provide deep insight into the lives of individuals has for too long been under estimated.

Nevertheless, whilst story telling can often be seen as intangible within a research context making it difficult to implement in some organisations, the use of patient stories is now becoming an important part in delivering improved healthcare. However, the challenge still remains that story telling becomes an essential part of the researcher’s tool box for example in presenting research findings.

If you would like to know more about story telling in the research context and a free one-hour consultation on  its application in Discovery Interviews why not contact us at: info@dhpresearch.com

Please share this post with anyone who might be interested.

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  1. A message for our followers | DHP Research thepatientoutcomesblog

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