Behaviour change specialist Claire McDonald tells HSJ how changing people’s behaviour can lead to big changes in public health

For too long the focus of the NHS has been on treating diseases and curing patients. However, with changing demographics and advances in medicine, healthcare is now equally about prevention and ensuring people’s wellbeing.

Claire McDonald

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens, during the launch of the NHS Five Year Forward View last week, emphasised on the importance of prevention by delivering care in new, innovative ways which involve not just latest technology but by engaging primary care and community care services alongside other stakeholders.

HSJ spoke to Claire McDonald at the Active by Design Summit organised by the Design Council last month. Ms McDonald is a behaviour change specialist who uses simple, non-traditional methods to understand people’s problems and lifestyles (the two can be invariably linked) and then influence behavioural change.  

She works with various NHS organisations, including NHS England; the Department of Health; councils; charities; and in the private sector. Some of her projects include leading the pan-London “ASAP” maternity activity (to encourage women to see their GP “as soon as you’re pregnant”), the SBRI behaviour change technology programme and advising the Greater London Authority and Transport for London.