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  • Jason Riis

What is behavioral dermatology?

Dermatologists face dozens fundamental “behavioral” challenges in their efforts to help patients: people rarely do the preventive care they should, people have unrealistic expectations, people miss appointments, people want work done for free, and people don’t always appreciate the complexity of your work and skill.


In my own research, and in countless conversations with dermatologists, patients, and others in the industry, I have found that there are three major opportunity areas for addressing challenging behavior, one for each of the behavioral categories discussed earlier (aspiration, moments, actions). The devil is in the details, and we’ll be exploring the details, but, in short, behavioral dermatology is about:

  1. Managing aspirations and expectations: Understand and influence what your patients expect, and what they hope for. Keep them grounded, but don’t let them settle.

  2. Capturing moments: Understand and influence the key moments in the patient’s “journey”, including details of a search for your services, details of an office visit, daily skincare routines, and the life challenges and opportunities that create motivation for change.

  3. Making it easy: Nobel Laureate, Richard Thaler, has said, “If you want to change behavior, make it easy”. If you want to influence a person’s search, follow up, health behavior, whatever, make it easy for them to do that thing. Think “hand holding”, not “explaining”.

These will be our main categories. Within each are hundreds of examples, cases, tactics, pearls, and conversational details that can be brought to more patients.

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