Understanding Cognition to Transform Healthcare

I’m sure that everyone in our class is aware of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act No_Change(PPACA) aka Obamacare seeing as it has been a controversial topic in many political debates. Essentially, the goal of Obamacare is to increase the number of insured individuals in the US by making insurance available to everyone. There are various political reasons people are disputing the effectiveness of Obamacare but I’m more interested in the reason brought up in a blog post by Dr. Nelson Soken: That we, as human beings, resist change.

Earlier this month Dr. Soken titled a post “Understanding of Human Cognition and Behavior Can Help Transform Healthcare” on the Association for Talent Development’s Healthcare blog detailing the Cognitive Biases that are barriers to change and then describing how he believes we can overcome those biases and the resistance to change. Several of the Cognitive Biases Cognitive_Bias_Unconscious_Mind_Adam_Eason_Hypnotherapy_01-600x675that Dr. Soken lists are ones that we have gone over in class; Confirmation Bias, Functional Fixedness, Loss Aversion, and Group Think. Additionally, Dr. Soken listed Egocentrism, turning a blind eye to the point of view of others (such as those who couldn’t obtain insurance under the old healthcare system), and Salience, focusing on the “louder” issues that get the most attention rather than the important issues (like the focus on the ramblings of politicians instead of on the actual issues surrounding individuals struggling without health insurance). He goes on to state that these cognitive biases tend to “reinforce the status quo” instead of promoting change, even if change is for the better. The doctor then lists out the mind and skill sets that he believes are imperative to the change in healthcare for the future: empathy, observation, a defined vision, collaboration, constructive debating, and prototyping (if you need elaboration on what any of these are, you’re welcome to read the original post which I have cited below). He concludes his post by stating that change is challenging regardless of the context, but that we stand a greater chance of accepting change if we have an awareness of the cognitive biases working against us as well as a valid list of strategies to combat those biases.

I found Dr. Soken’s take on the controversial subject to be much more interesting than the political ramblings that are portrayed throughout the media on an everyday basis. After reading the post, I have to say that I agree with him overall, that cognitive biases truly do have a strong effect on our openness to change. I would also have to agree that being aware of strategies that can be utilized to combat those cognitive biases definitely improves the likelihood of changes being accepted.


Soken, N. (2016, April 22). Healthcare Blog. Retrieved from Association for Talent Development: https://www.td.org/Publications/Blogs/Healthcare-Blog/2016/04/Understanding-of-Human-Cognition-and-Behavior-Can-Help-Transform-Healthcare