Nudge Unit in Australian government drives behaviour change

State of New South Wales, in  Australia have been actively supporting the mission to use behavior science as a key enabler to enable policy decisions and drive positive society change.

They are using the principles of behavioral science to tackle interesting problems :

1. Reduce city traffic congestion through flexi work hours

Transport for NSW (TfNSW) Travel Choices program, which aims to shift Sydney CBD commuter behaviour. It is part of a suite of measures by Transport for NSW’s Sydney Coordination Office that uses behaviour change approaches to increase travelling outside the busiest times on the road and public transport networks, and to increase travelling by active and public transport.

It worked with business leaders to encourage the adoption of flexible work hour policies or in other words use behaviour changes to allow employees not to be judged for adopting flexible hour policies.

One of the interventions was,changing default settings in Microsoft Outlook calendars

Outlook defaults to highlighting 9am-5pm as the time people are available for meetings. To subtly nudge people to avoid early and late meetings, and so enable flexible start and finish times, the outlook default settings was altered.

2. Reducing patients missing the Doctor appointments

St Vincent’s Hospital  tested a variety of text message reminders to see which one was the most effective at getting people to attend their appointment.

Version Text Message
Original You have an appointment with Dr [XXXX] in [clinic XXXX] on [date] at [time]. For enquiries, call 8382–3150. Do not reply.
Version 1 Original Message + Last year the hospital lost $500,000 due to lost appointments.
Version 2 Original Message + If you do not attend the hospital loses $125.
Version 3 Original Message + If you do not attend the hospital loses $125 that can be used to treat other patients.
Version 4 Original Message + If you attend the hospital will not lose the $125 we lose when a patient does not show up.
Version 5 Original Message + By attending the hospital will not lose the $125 that we lose when a patient does not turn up. This money will be used to treat other patients.
Version 6 Original Message + You are free not to attend but please call us on 8382–3150 if you need to cancel or rearrange.
Version 7 Original Message + Please attend or call 8382–3150 to cancel/rearrange, or we will record as a missed appt.

Version 5 was found to be effective and reduced the missed appointments significantly.

ResonVate Thought
Governments are embracing behavioral science to drive positive change in society.

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with ideas on  challenging status quo, people in the forefront
which can be applied in  change management, policy and welfare, business communication
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