We Need to Talk About Persisting Pain
Persisting pain affects more people than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined.
Despite this need, we aren't doing a good job of talking about pain and helping people move from disability to recovery with this condition.
All of the work that I do, inside and outside the clinic, is focussed on this important area of human experience and health care.
The right advice is your best pain medicine
PainChats was started in 2017 by Lissanthea Taylor and Edward Grigoryan. Our mission is to fill the gap in high-quality information for people in persisting pain is both accurate and easily accessible online, and supports high-value clinical care.
Brian Pulling joined the team in 2019 as Science Editor, taking on a critical role in making sure the stories line up with the emerging scientific evidence-base around persisting pain and perceptual science.
Science + Stories for Low Back Pain
I write a weekly email for people living with low back pain.
The weekly email combines current scientific pain research, the lived experience of pain and practical activities that people can apply in their life to move from disability to living well with back pain.
They're not shared anywhere else but on email, so if you want to get more of them, you'll need to signup for the list.
Click the link below to download a sample of the weekly emails.
Every person that comes to us for help in health care is an opportunity to exercise empathy and create a solution.
So far, I have spent 14 years and counting solving problems with people on an individual basis as a Physical Therapist. My work day consists of understanding people by asking questions, fostering empathy, and allowing people to tell their story in the process of finding a solution to their problem.
Health has so many dimensions and meanings that finding the right solution requires creative problem solving and reasoning. I discovered that while I was treating clients, my mind focusses on designing the interaction and trying to make things that worked for people, and weaving that in to the clinical "evidence based medicine". As so many clinicians realise, context is key when we need people to change how they are living.
I also had the realisation that my professional experience can scale if it goes in to designing services, processes and digital health applications. The process of design brings together my areas of interest in behavioural economics, "mindsight" and the power of vulnerability, and focusses it on achieving better outcomes for all stakeholders in healthcare.
Health Care Needs Design
Devices, services and experiences that create health are needed more than ever.
A Clinician's Perspective
Health professionals such as doctors, nurses and allied health professionals dedicate their career to helping others. Care is embedded in our education and our professional standards, and for many it is the ability to make a positive change in the world that gets us out of bed.
Design and innovation in Health must consider the role of the clinician, their workflow and their motivations in doing their job, for it to be most effective. Designers need to understand time pressures, work stress, empathy fatigue and interactions between clinicians to incorporate solutions to these in to design.
Unless we consider the clinician as a customer of the healthcare system too, we miss the opportunity to create something that can help them help others.
A Person-Centred Approach
Notice I didn't say "Patient-centred"? For too long we have labelled people as patients and made them believe they're passive participants in their health. People can tell you best what their specific problems are, if you give them the space to co-create the solutions.
People can often tell you why they have trouble doing what health professionals tell them to do. It is rarely that they don't want to get healthy, but more often that life gets in their way. Designing solutions starts with empathy and understanding, and giving people space to tell their story and have a part in the solution is critical.
Leverage Points for Change
Good clinicians need strong businesses and technology behind them to make change happen for the people we serve.
Collaboration and Cross-Pollination of Ideas
Health Care and Design Thinking can create great solutions to human-centred problems. Part of the design process must involve an understanding of business and revenue models, as well as distribution channels, to get those solutions to the people that need them.
Cross-pollinating ideas from other industries, and actively seeking to change the ways that health care is practiced is a huge task. To do it most effectively, we must create solutions that take in to account the economics of innovation, and the long-term benefits of preventative care.
Things I've done that have grown my skills and abilities
I escaped from working in health care for a few years to expand my skills in technology and business.
I worked at AirPair, a Y-Combinator company, that was a marketplace for software engineering skills delivered via online pair programming.
My role was blog editor and content creation, plus social media and community management. I developed a sound understanding of content strategy and execution, analytics and social media campaigns.
Through the nature of the business, I also developed a useful working knowledge of programming languages and frameworks, and working with developers.
In 2011, I founded The Equestrian Physiotherapist, a specialist niche service catering to the performance needs of Equestrian athletes.
Through my personal understanding of the sport and consultation with athletes and coaches, I was able to craft a service that catered to the unique demands of horse riders. Understanding rider psychology, environment and training patterns enabled me to develop a new service model that has been used by elite riders throughout Australia.
TreatComplete was an android app developed to alpha-testing stage in 2012, and discontinued due to the loss of our developer.
TreatComplete was a video capture app designed to support the clinical workflow of Physical Therapists, and aid exercise recall and compliance for patients. I played a key role in mapping out the UX to support the clinical interaction, and remove friction points that a clinician experiences in setting a home program.
Our initial user testing with both clinicians and patients was favourable for an intuitive and fast user flow that improved clinical outcomes.
Clarus Bionics is an Australian company commercialising an innovative bionic actuator that mimics the structure and function of skeletal muscle.
This company was operating at the cutting edge of science, and this technology has enormous potential for changing how we power and move devices such as assistive walkers and robots.
The challenge this company faced was being able to effectively communicate their technology and their value proposition to investors. My role within the company was to create investor relations materials that effectively communicated both the technology and the business model.
In 2013, I recognised that there was no organised group for health professionals, technologists and designers to come together and share their knowledge, so I started HealthTech Sydney.
This group grew quickly, and attracted a varied cross-section of participants to our monthly meetup events.
I left the group after twelve months to move to San Francisco, and it has continued in my absence to be a hub of connection for founders and startups in health technology in Australia. With 1000+ members, this group continues to be a force for change in the Australian health innovation landscape.
Human History is Told in Narrative
I believe stories matter and help us make sense of the world.
I like to write my adventures down so you can read them on Medium.com.