If the NHS ran Disney #WILTW

This is the 136th #WILTW

Please read this with the Christmas spirit it was intended 🙂

In 2004 Fred Lee published “If Disney ran your hospital: 9½ Things you would do differently“.  His observations, as an American hospital executive who went on to work for Disney, are technically more pertinent to “pay-as-you-go” systems but remain relevant to all healthcare providers. His key idea is that customer experience is paramount and being obsessive about it will improve quality across an organisation. The famous example from the book highlights that healthcare professionals never say why they are drawing curtains around patients. He argues just explaining it is for the patient’s own privacy would be a small but tangible approach that would improve experience.

Having taken my daughters to Disneyland Paris this week I can vouch that the ‘Disney’ experience is certainly something special. The attention to detail in the Sleeping Beauty castle, the brilliance of the Buzz Lighter Laser Blast and the charm of the Dumbo flying ride all definitely have a ‘wow’ factor. However having completely  immersed ourselves over a couple of days I do think there are areas where the NHS might just have an edge over the corporate machine that is Disney.

  1. Waiting Experience – In both the NHS and Disneyland you need to be patient and wait in line. However while waiting in an Emergency Department to have your broken arm mended is not the same as waiting to fly through the sky with Peter Pan you can pretty much guarantee in the NHS there will be toys in the waiting room. The interaction during queues was surprisingly sparse in Disney, perhaps they need to employ some Play Specialists..
  2. Waiting Times – While a matter of great political and clinical debate the NHS does have standards it aspires to. Are there waiting time for rides that Disney wouldn’t publically be prepared to publish? What percentage of visitors get to ride Big Thunder Mountain having had to use a significant proportion of their total visit time for the privilege? The 4 hour target is a cause of great controversy but at least it’s a matter of public record.
  3. Prioritising Services – In order to maintain flow for emergencies the NHS may chose to delay elective surgical procedures. While this is clearly frustrating for some it maintains the service within a finite resource envelope. Disney doesn’t have the ability to sacrifice Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups to improve access to Pirates of the Caribbean.
  4. Managing demand – The services the NHS can provide do not match the need for care it wishes to provide. Therefore prioritisation decisions need to be made. These are difficult, and sometimes very unpopular, but aim to ensure treatments are given to those most in need of help or most likely to benefit from it. In Disney however it is possible for a group of adults to decide they’d like to have their pictures taken with Mickey over breakfast denying a couple of toddlers the chance.
  5. Knowing your environment – while many hospitals are like mazes at least NHS staff will be honest if they don’t know where ‘Clinic 23’ is. To the Disney staff member who looked like they weren’t sure where we wanted to go, but still cheerfully sent us completely in the wrong direction, we forgive you.

Have a good holiday period – whatever you maybe doing.

What have you learnt this week? #WILTW

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