Have you ever been to Disney World? My first vacation to Disney World was as an adult, so I think that my perspective was probably different from those of you who went as a child. I can only imagine what a magical place it would be to a child, but to me it held a different magic.
My husband and I decided to take our first anniversary trip to Disney World as we enjoy amusement parks, warm locations, and were looking for an “experience”. Disney World seemed to fit all of our requirements, so off we went to Florida. When we arrived at the airport our bags were magically transported without us having to gather them, we boarded a comfortable bus and were whisked away to our hotel and were greeted with a smile upon disembarking. We were given buttons to wear that said “Happy Anniversary”, which we debated if we should wear… we gave into the magic and affixed them to ourselves. With that all settled, we set out into the parks.
My husband and I were immediately greeted with smiles and salutations of “Happy Anniversary”. It seemed like every employee in the park wanted to help us celebrate our anniversary. We had days and nights filled with food, rides, lots and lots of walking, and shows. Throughout our entire vacation, people went out of their way to make us feel welcome and offer to assist us. The parks were spotless, which still baffles me today as I can’t imagine how they manage to keep the hordes of people from leaving a trail of garbage throughout the parks. At the end of our vacation we again were seated on the bus and back to the airport and the reality of adult life resumed.
I am sure, if you have read this article to this point, you have begun to wonder why I am telling stories of my past vacations and how this relates to you. If you give me a little grace, it will all become clear shortly.
Every day as Physician Assistants we work at hospitals, private offices, urgent cares, surgery centers and many other locations. Our job is to care for our patients, make sure that they are healthy, and prevent illness. In the changing world of healthcare, we are now also graded on our patient satisfaction scores. Every patient I see is emailed a survey asking how I did: was I understandable?, did I explain things?, did they get to participate in their care?, would they recommend me to their friends and family?, and a litany of other questions. This adds another layer of complexity to my role as their healthcare provider. For example; how do I make sure I get good patient satisfaction scores when I am telling someone something they don’t want to hear? While I am aware that patient satisfaction scores are not the focus of my job, I am still held accountable for them. In addition, patient satisfaction scores are now going to be published for the public to view which will determine if patients will choose to see me and my practice for their healthcare needs.
I have been thinking about patient satisfaction for a long time. I am presented with this data about myself and my colleagues on a monthly basis and asked to review what I am doing well and what I could be doing better. While brainstorming of ways to improve patient satisfaction, Disney World suddenly popped into my head. I am not sure if that was my subconscious longing for escape, or a brilliant idea. Could aiming for the same level of customer service as Disney World improve patient satisfaction? As I think about it, we stood in lines for over an hour at times, in sweltering humid weather, surrounded by masses of humanity, yet we were tickled pink about our vacation. Disney World managed to make something that should be detestable turn into something I wanted to do again, and again, and again. Could I use my experience at Disney World to provide excellent care for my patients, and improve their patient satisfaction?
I don’t know if recreating a Disney World experience is the answer to improving patient satisfaction, but it is something I am going to ponder further. I challenge you to think outside of your box to solve any problems you have in your practice. I would love to hear your innovative ideas that we could share with our members, so please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org at any time.
In parting, I want to leave you with a quote from Walt Disney: “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing”.