A Moment with Ingrid Melvær Paulin is part of our interview series featuring thought leaders in research and healthcare. Each interview includes 7 short and stimulating questions.

Ingrid Melvær Paulin is a senior behavioral scientist at Rally Health, where she applies behavioral science to the design of products and experiences that improve and simplify health care. For more from Ingrid, follow her on Twitter.

1. Tell us something we don’t know. (Anything!)

If you wanted your at-risk premature baby to survive at the turn of the 20th century, you could bring them to “Infantoriums” at amusement parks! These incubator shows happened all over America, and they were a main source of healthcare for premature babies for over forty years (This and most of the other strange design facts I know are courtesy of the brilliant Roman Mars of 99% Invisible, which you should listen to if you haven’t already).

2. Which fiction book would you recommend to researchers and innovators in healthcare, and why?

A fiction book I’ve found myself recommending a lot since I read it, is Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It’s a beautiful story about identities and belonging.

3. What are you working on right now that you’re excited about?

I’m working on a new platform called Rally Recover, which helps improve patient outcomes after surgery. We are using different features in our product to make patients and their care teams more connected, help patients be more adherent to their treatment plans, know what to expect and when to look out for signs that something should be checked out. For example, patients have daily activities, and are asked to check in about their symptoms, motivation and recovery plans. If something doesn’t seem right, their care teams are notified to follow up with the patient through the app.

Going through a big medical procedure can be extremely intimidating, and I’m excited to be working on a platform that can help make that experience easier and more motivating. We just launched in January, and as more patients are using it, we are learning so much both about the clinical and behavioral aspects of their recovery!

4. Who’s doing something that you admire in healthcare today, and why is it so cool?

This is a tough choice, as there are so many impressive practitioners and great work being done in healthcare today! I love seeing efforts to amplify the voices and increase the representation of minorities and women in healthcare roles that have stereotypically been seen as typically white or male. There’s a lot of examples here: From policies, mentoring and training programs such as the Medical Professionalism project, efforts to highlight some of the amazingly talented female behavioral practitioners in healthcare as speakers at conferences, and even social media trends such as #ILookLikeASurgeon still going strong five or so years after Heather Logghe started it.

On the behavioral science side, I’m always really impressed with the work coming out of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics (CHIBE). They do an excellent job partnering with healthcare professionals and policymakers to conduct studies and implement their work.

5. What’s the biggest barrier to getting things done in your line of work?

In healthcare, you (understandably) want to be careful about “moving fast and breaking things”: You want to make sure you’re not inflicting any harm, you’re often working with sensitive data that can be hard to access, and making changes to existing systems often requires jumping through a lot of hoops. Making a difference requires a lot of planning, patience and persistence.

6. Imagine you win an award for impacting healthcare. What did you do?

I helped make healthcare products and services easier to access and more effective at driving health behavior change!

7. What advice would you give innovators in healthcare?

Have a really clear idea of which specific behaviors you are trying to change, why it matters, how your intervention is driving those behaviors, and how you will know whether your intervention is helping. There are so many products and services in healthcare that are only increasing friction for patients and providers, and you don’t want to add to that.


About Ingrid Melvær Paulin

Ingrid Melvær Paulin is a senior behavioral scientist at Rally Health, where she applies behavioral science to the design of products and experiences that improve and simplify health care. Before working at Rally, she was a senior behavioral researcher at Duke University’s Center for Advanced Hindsight and Irrational Labs. Ingrid has also been a research advisor at the Perception Institute, a visiting scholar at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, a behavioural science research associate at the UK Design Council, and a postgraduate teaching assistant and seminar leader at University College London.

Ingrid received her Master’s degree in social cognition from University College London and a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and political science from UC Berkeley and the University of Tromsø.

Written by: Aline Holzwarth