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VIP
Posts: 94
Registered: ‎02-26-2010

"Do Scientists Understand the Public?"

I was recently directed to an interesting PDF entitled "Do Scientists Understand the Public?".

 

While this was a paper on how scientists should interact with the public, especially on heated issues with political ramifications such as the storage of spent nuclear fuel, I immediately started drawing parallels between what was discussed in the paper and pharmacy, especially in terms of new technology for pharmacy.

 

This PDF discusses the relationship between the scientific community and the public, which is in general the greater group that they are serving. Pharmacy is a much more narrow field, and the groups we serve are more narrow. Our principle customers are our patients and other medical disciplines with whom we interact (such as physicians and nurses in a hospital setting).

 

I found that there was a good deal of value that could be obtained from this study for pharmacy, that merely educating and supplying information is not enough by itself, and that by our customers not listening to us is not a failure on their part to be educated. That if we in pharmacy want to roll out some new technology that will ultimately improve the healthcare setting, implementing that technology is actually the easier part of implementation as reaching out to the groups we serve is the most important part of success.

 

Thoughts? Opinions? Ideas?

Graham O'Hea, Pharmacy Systems Analyst
Trusted Contributor
Posts: 141
Registered: ‎02-19-2010

Re: "Do Scientists Understand the Public?"

Graham,

Interesting article.  I only read through the introduction, but intend to finish it up later.  The top two recommendations made in the paper really caught my attention, because those are principles of human factors engineering. 

 

Participation allows for identifying end user problems with a process or new technology.  Getting end users involved also helps gain buy in and trust to make for a smoother implementation.  This definitely applies to pharmacy.  Is a new technology or process in the pharmacy going to affect patient care?  Getting the stakeholders involved early can help flush out those issues.  In terms of reaching out to patients, there has been a stronger emphasis by patient safety experts to educate and involve patients with their own care so they are part of the feedback system to catch a potential error.

 

Recommendation 2 talks about addresses non-technical issues.  Again part of HFE  is knowing the end user and the environment and culture they are working within.  Culture is just part of the healthcare and pharmacy system, and an important one when addressing safety issues.  Trying to implement new technologies and processes in a vacuum usually just creates frustration and unsafe workarounds.

 

So yes, I agree with you that there are some definite parallels to pharmacy in this article.  Thanks for sharing this thought provoking article.

 

Paul

 

VIP
Posts: 94
Registered: ‎02-26-2010

Re: "Do Scientists Understand the Public?"

It is not a short article, so I was hesitant at first about posting this, but different people have different appetites as to what constitutes "too long" (while the total PDF is 25 pages, the actual body of text is only about 15 pages, so I don't consider this to be too long, but I have also read "War and Peace" by Leo Tolstoy twice, so perhaps I am not a good judge of this), and being an information junkie, I would rather have something posted which I could make the judgment of reading than not have had something posted at all.

 

I am now realizing in all of the implementations that I have gone through and all of the programming that I have done is that overcoming the technical problems associated with some piece of technology is only about one tenth of the battle, and the remaining nine tenths is just getting people to not only just accept, but to embrace and champion whatever it is that we are trying to do.

 

(As a personal anecdote, I was having a conversation unrelated to this subject last night with my father (an engineer), and he said "The most important class in Engineering school is English", which just dovetails into this subject in an offhand sort of way. It is only in the last couple of years have I realized the huge importance of HFE in projects).

Graham O'Hea, Pharmacy Systems Analyst
Trusted Contributor
Posts: 141
Registered: ‎02-19-2010

Re: "Do Scientists Understand the Public?"

 


GrahamOH wrote: overcoming the technical problems associated with some piece of technology is only about one tenth of the battle, and the remaining nine tenths is just getting people to not only just accept, but to embrace and champion whatever it is that we are trying to do.

 


Just to give you an idea...one of the courses I took during my Master's studies was completely focused on technology acceptance.  There has been a lot of HFE and psychology focused on what it takes to accept and trust technology. 

 

VIP
Posts: 94
Registered: ‎02-26-2010
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Re: "Do Scientists Understand the Public?"

I think that having a class like that is great, but that class was part of your Masters program in HFE. The problem, though, is that a course similar to the one you described should be part of the standard curriculum for business majors, managers, and technical types. If we expect technology acceptance to be just part of HFE, we will be losing out on a lot of opportunities to invest and improve.

Graham O'Hea, Pharmacy Systems Analyst
Trusted Contributor
Posts: 141
Registered: ‎02-19-2010

Re: "Do Scientists Understand the Public?"

That's an interesting thought, but I'm not sure I 100% agree.  I think it would be valid to integrate some overview of technology acceptance into some of the courses, but I'm not sure business majors or developers need an entire course.  They should have an understanding of it, but I don't think they necessarily need to be experts. 

VIP
Posts: 94
Registered: ‎02-26-2010
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Re: "Do Scientists Understand the Public?"

I'm not suggesting that they take the same sort of Master's level course that you did, but if this is something that they need to have an understanding of, it would have to be integrated with some other course, or have to be its own class. A four year program is going to have them taking liberal arts courses that have nothing to do with their majors or their future careers just for the sake of well-roundedness (no one expects them to become art experts just from taking Art 101).

Graham O'Hea, Pharmacy Systems Analyst
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Posts: 1
Registered: ‎07-29-2010

Re: "Do Scientists Understand the Public?"

As a former neuroscientist turned pharmacist (Creighton,'08) and having spent the last 10 years of my scientific career in the area of public education, I could write a book. Having also worked in the pharmaceutical industry early on in my career, I have found that in general th in the retail settings I have worked in there is a lack of understanding about drug development,  pricing, technology, the FDA, quality control issue, clinical testing etc etc etc.

 

It is imperative that we take opportunities for teaching moments. It is imperative we help our patients understand even the basics of looking up and comparing Medicare plans on the internet, since the government is driving the public to utilize the internet. In the end it is the personal relationship we establish that will help patients trust us and see us a resource through which they can learn more and help utilize better tha meny aspects of technology now involved in health care.  Nothing will ever replace the "human factor".