Fuzzy Thinking in Healthcare

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Thousands and thousands of psychology studies have shown that we are extremely efficient at ignoring facts and irrational thinking. Some studies have shown that confirmation bias is not just behavioural, but physiological too. When information is received supporting one’s beliefs a rush of dopamine is delivered to areas of the brain producing feelings of pleasure and motivation. Confirmation feels good. It doesn’t matter if you are right or wrong.

What this means is the world is messy. And so it should be of no surprise when problems are solved with counterintuitive thinking. Sometimes have to use fuzzy thinking. An example:

The Problem

To increase efficiency a hospital introduced a new digital system for recording medical observations, ordering prescriptions, scheduling surgery and viewing records. However, physicians spent more time completing computer tasks and less time with patients. Average workdays increased. Digitalization led to burnout and clinical depression amongst medical staff.

The Counterintuitive Solution

The hospital changed direction and reduced the number of screens medical staff could access. Diagnosis accuracy improved. The technology wasn’t streamlining care. Alternatives (like paper and human “healthcare scribes”) were superior for the socializing medical records, diagnoses and treatments. This aligns with Malcolm Gladwell’s insights in, “The Social Life of Paper,” where he discusses the enduring relevance of paper.

Counterintuitive solutions are a form of course correction. Digitalization was the right thing to do. But it needed to be done in a way that reflects “the real world”biases of medical staff. Some people don’t want to touch a computer. Some ideas are better put on paper. That makes the system more messy, but it’s a system that works. Because it’s more like us.


Understanding the cultural and practical needs of medical professionals was critical to solving the hospital’s problem. This principle extends beyond healthcare and into the realm of brand management. By recognizing and aligning with the cultural nuances of a brand, organizations can develop more effective and resonant strategies. Embracing counterintuitive solutions and respecting the real-world biases of individuals involved can lead to more successful marketing outcomes.