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What Ocado’s online delivery model can teach GPs: Ogilvy’s Rory Sutherland on choice architecture

GPs should look to Ocado’s online delivery slot selection model when creating appointments for patients, according to Ogilvy vice-chairman Rory Sutherland, who said that doing so would improve access to surgeries and “hit the sweet spot” between technology, psychology and economics.

Speaking to The Drum Sutherland said that as technology advances business should look to combine this with behavioural insights to create “choice architecture” or choices people didn’t realise they had, to improve services.

“If you applied the Ocado Green Man mechanism, which is incentivisation to choose the most efficient appointment without any financial incentive being deployed, and you took that approach and applied it to booking appointments with GPs in your local surgery, that could significantly improve access to GPs, particularly among the people who are time constrained because the people who are going to be ill at home all day wouldn’t hog the appointments that people needed when they had to get to work by 10am.”

Another area “ripe” for disruption around the introduction of choice architecture is the pension industry, according to Sutherland, who called the design of legal and tax rebates around pensions “absurd”. He added that government money spent on the sector is just “counterbalancing the appalling design”.

Sutherland also urged brands to approach advertising agencies when looking for unconventional communications, something he said has historically not been the case due to perceptions around budgets and the ad industry’s tendency to look towards media campaigns.

“There is a kind of muscle memory in the advertising industry which goes, ‘gosh we’ve got this business problem it must lead to a communication otherwise we have failed’,” he said. “When you’re paid by the hour that needn’t be true – you can go in and offer advice on choice architecture and product design without needing to give money to Rupert Murdoch at all.

“The problem that arose from that was that people never approached an ad agency [and thought] ‘unless I’ve got a £1m media budget they won’t want to talk to me’. That’s a problem we have to overcome,” he added.

Check out the full interview above.

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