Better decisions by design: applied behavioral science

Can we design a decision aid that gives us health information we need and counters our biases so that we end up more knowledgeable and confident in our preference? This is the challenge that Artefact, together with Group Health Research Institute, sought to address with project SIMBA.

To explore how to overcome bias and deal with mixed types of decision making factors, the Artefact team designed an online decision aid. It helps patients develop a more informed preference for treatment and prepare for a discussion with their care team, optimizing for tablets to make that discussion as easy as possible. They designed to counter biases and help patients consider quantitative and experiential factors together. Rigorous testing showed the design was better than a standard healthcare decision aid at creating a well-informed, confident preference. Artefact built it for one specific decision in breast cancer treatment but the research findings and design patterns they used could apply to many health decisions.

“While scholarly research defined key project challenges, we think good experiences come from involving users directly throughout the process of uncovering challenges, ideating solutions, and refining a direction. We conducted discovery and design sessions with patients throughout the development of SIMBA and made many changes for improved usability and completeness.”