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Can Healthcare Providers Use Disney Magic on Patients? 



As the self-proclaimed “Happiest Place on Earth,” Disney excels at providing customer experiences that keep people coming back for more. What else would you expect from an organization founded by a man who said, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible”?  

Imagine if a patient’s healthcare data, psychographic segment and other relevant data could be loaded on an RFID-enabled band prior to a planned hospital admission.

But in order to address healthcare consumerism, hospitals and other healthcare providers need to focus on the quality of patient experiences too. Justin Gressel, senior data scientist for Health Catalyst, notes: “The focus on the guest experience has to become a living, breathing part of an organization for it to be successful; having it as another bullet on a company mission statement will not produce the desired effects.” And he’s speaking from a place of experience having been a “front-line cast member,” which is how Disney refers to its employees.

Use Healthcare Data to Improve Patient Experiences

If healthcare consumerism or increasing competition aren’t sufficient reasons for healthcare providers to ramp up their patient experience game, then the fact that reimbursements will increasingly be tied to patient satisfaction should spur some action. So, let’s look at what healthcare can learn from Disney.

Know your customers

Gressel says, “The foundation for providing a great guest experience starts with understanding the guest.” He suggests that part of that knowledge comes from experiences—employees who have risen through the ranks so they understand the importance of every customer interaction.

hollywood-disney.jpgDisney also gathers feedback from guests through regular surveys to “identify the attributes that most strongly influence the guest’s overall experience.” In the healthcare setting, providers also have a variety of data sources at their fingertips. In addition to results from surveys like the HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems), healthcare providers capture data on patients in their clinical and financial systems.

But electronic health records (EHRs) data can only take you so far. To gain a better understanding of what individual patients need and want from their healthcare experiences, you must capture more than diagnoses or health histories. Health-focused psychographic segmentation classifies patients based on their attitudes, values, motivations, and preferences related to health and wellness, giving you insights into their behaviors so you can refine your interactions to better address their expectations.  

Offer a fluid experience

Several years ago, Disney introduced the MagicBand. The wearable enables guests to enter the parks, unlock hotel rooms, purchase meals and merchandise and receive FastPass+ access to rides and other park experiences that they have pre-selected online. As anyone who has travelled with family members young and old knows, keeping everyone happy is a juggling act. The MagicBand facilitates seamless—even magical—experiences for guests.

How? It’s not just from shorter wait times on favorite rides. Disney gains actionable insights into guests. Preferences information, for example, allows cast members to personalize experiences further because they know a child absolutely loves Mickey or a couple is celebrating their anniversary. And that’s not all: the treasure trove of guest data allows Disney to make informed decisions about future plans based on the feedback they capture.

An article on suggests a similar approach could transform healthcare experiences. Imagine, for example, if a patient’s healthcare data, psychographic segment and other relevant data could be loaded on an RFID-enabled band prior to a planned hospital admission.


Rather than an experience that begins with a gauntlet of form-filling and ends with one-size-fits-all discharge instructions, the band would provide and capture data throughout the entire journey and beyond. Medical conditions, medications, food allergies and restrictions, appointments, and procedures would all be available in real time to facilitate a less stressful, more personalized patient experience. Patient engagement—whether face-to-face, digitally or in print—could be customized using psychographic insights to resonate more effectively and motivate optimal behaviors to enhance health, wellbeing or recovery.  healthcare_divider.png

It’s important to remember one other Disney lesson. Technology and healthcare analytics can only take you so far. Disney considers its entire staff as cast members, whether they perform on stage or greet guests in the resort hotel lobbies. As Walt Disney said: “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”

Your staff is the front line for delivering positive patient experiences. Just as Disney encourages its cast members to actively engage guests, watch for visual cues that signal a guest needs assistance and make guest happiness the ultimate goal, healthcare providers need to emphasize the importance of each and every patient interaction—from check-in to discharge to post-discharge follow-up. It may not turn a healthcare facility into the happiest place on earth, but it will certainly help boost patient satisfaction with their healthcare experiences.

Psychographic Segmentation and its Practical Application in Patient Engagement and Behavior Change


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