Nudge & Healthcare

The Nudge Theory. It’s that Book «Nudge. Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness» which influenced already a lot of people and will; and researchers and healthcare professionals. When I first dived into these pages of Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein it felt like opening a really big door. The libertarian paternalism and the choice architecture.

One of the most common references out of the book is about Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, Iata code AMS. It’s the original urinal story about a Nudge, a behaviour change on the toilet. For men only.

> A busy airport like Schiphol, one of the Aerotropolis Airports (see our Blog Nr 2), welcomes a lot of travelers in a hurry. When it comes to the toilet break there is a big chance the travelers won’t have the commitment and time to use everything properly ie. not to pollute the space around the urinal.

So the result is not only ugly and smells bad, the cleaning team has to do an intensified job as well. So an employed economist at the airport applied his invention of a black house fly as an adhesive onto the bowls of the urinals. The result: Spillage declined 80 percent! …give the man a target and he goes for it.

This inspired a whole urinal development. See more facts within the stories of the discontinued Nudge blog. The so-called urinal series — where our blog picture with the inserted bonsai football field is comming from. This was discovered in a football stadium in Bonn, Germany. So as a concentrated man it was possible to push the football with the urine stream right into the goal. And get rid of the spillage at the same time.

One last remark about these striking but maybe tiring best practices. Nudge offers much more, delivers chances in almost every part of daily life — for kids, women and men of course. Maybe animals.
> In the City of Zurich Nudge-effective toilet marketing goes through a specialized booking service — «Pisspoint» (in german).

In healthcare I set up another Nudge to reduce fear from the hospital. Together with my colleague Simone Marquart we started to implement the teddy clinic for kids and adults back in 2011. Details in german here. We arranged a special course for the kids and their plush pets to go through a playful simulation of the hospital process from check-in, waiting room, diagnose and talk with the «teddy doc», x-ray, anaesthesia, surgery, eventually a cast/plaster, bandage, physiotherapy and check-out. There was a huge success right from the beginning. People asked for more, we had to set up a series, register the teddy clinic as a national trademark and selling daily licenses to other hospitals. The hospital became a neighbour, sympathic, a place to laugh, a place to discover the «simplicity» of a treatment.


At smarthealthlab we would like to enter the discussion about Nudge, eNudge or Digital Nudge in healthcare in our digital orbit. We will perform a speech at

- 600Minutes CMO Event, 25th May 2016, Marriott Zurich — Customer Journey with Nudge

- The first Smarthealthcamp, 26th May 2016 in Zurich — Nudge in Healthcare — Co-organized by Thomas, Speech by me

On top of it I will start a Nudge training at the EB Zürich School on the 17th May 2016. Four evenings to explore the chances and risks for interested marketeers, communicators, behavioral economicsts.

Ready to be Nudged?

Maurice Codourey

Originally published at

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