If Disney Did Healthcare……

I’m writing this from Orlando, Florida, where I just delivered the opening keynote for the American Association of Urgent Care Medicine annual conference and exhibition at the Walt Disney World Resort.  As you might imagine, I come here frequently for such engagements as well as for Microsoft corporate conferences.  It is one of the few places that can really handle large groups.  On previous visits I’ve had the pleasure of taking the “back stage” tour of Walt Disney World.  I’ve also spent a little time at the Disney Institute.  Business people from all over the world come to Disney to learn the magic of running the Magic Kingdoms.  In addition, whenever I visit Orlando I try to spend a little of my downtime visiting the Disney parks.  On this trip, I took another look at Epcot and Disney’s MGM Studios.  All this got me to thinking about what it would be like if Disney did healthcare.  Here are a few of my observations:


If Disney did healthcare there would still be long lines and lots of waiting, but they would handle the lines so well that nobody would really mind.  Furthermore, if you were really in a hurry you could always grab a Fast-Pass. Despite the long lines, the total experience would be so compelling that any wait would soon fade from memory.

If Disney did healthcare our hospitals and clinics would be impeccably clean, safe and extremely efficient despite the press of humanity seeking services there every day.

The doctors and nurses, and everyone else from janitor to clerk, would greet patients with a smile.  Grumpiness wouldn’t be tolerated.  All workers would understand that they were cast members playing the most important roles in their patients’ lives.  They would always strive to put the customer first.

If Disney did healthcare they would know everything about me from the moment I entered their clinic or hospital until the time I went home and everywhere in between.  All of this would be facilitated by the best technology money could buy.  And you better believe that would include customer relationship management tools.  And even though computers would be running virtually everything, most of that technology would be invisible except where it was meant to be seen.  Nothing could threaten the special relationship between provider and patient.

If Disney did healthcare they would still charge of ton of money, but their customers would seldom if ever complain because the total experience always exceeded expectations.

Bottom line; If Disney did healthcare there would be nothing (or perhaps everything) Mickey Mouse about it.


Bill Crounse, MD          Worldwide Health Director           Microsoft Corporation

Comments (11)

  1. Maneesh says:

    Bill, reading this post, I was wondering if you had read about the University of Colorado’s Hospital – partially designed by Disney: http://www.usatoday.com/life/lifestyle/2004-06-07-hospital-of-future_x.htm

  2. hlthblog says:

    Thanks for your comment.  Actually, I am aware that Disney does (or consults on) healthcare.  As the article you referenced points out, the result is a very good thing for patients and their families.  Let’s hope this is the start of a trend in American healthcare.  One that’s long over due.

    Bill Crounse, MD

  3. Maneesh says:

    I agree. It’s time for new innovations in healthcare. Not just in the use of IT – but thinking outside the box in other areas as well to deliver higher quality and higher value to "customers".

  4. Paul Martin says:

    You might say that at Disney we’d get genuine "holistic medicine." In my nearly 13 years of a rare progressive illness, not one provider, mainstream or alternative, has taken the time to get to know me as well as, say, the typical casual acquaintance at work.

    In my experience, mainstream doctors didn’t even pretend to try to get to know me. Alternative medicine providers typically did make a little small talk. But the last time I really experienced anything like holistic medicine was before anyone was talking about "holistic medicine:" as a kid in the 60s with our family doctor.

  5. hlthblog says:


    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.  I frequently keynote at national and international healthcare industry conferences.  During my keynotes, I often reflect on the special bond that I felt with my own family doctor as a kid growing up in a small town in the late 50’s and 60’s.  Maybe it is just nostalgia, or maybe docs really were different in those days.  No doubt, that experience had a lot to do with my own decision to become a family doctor.  Although my career eventually took me in another direction, my heart is still with my colleagues and their noble profession.  I really don’t think the problem is with today’s doctors as much as it is with a "system" that works against the physician-patient relationship.

    Bill Crounse, MD   Worldwide Health Director        Microsoft

  6. Jose Martin says:

    If Disney did Healthcare…

    … we would see a diversity of specialty hospitals (or other focused delivery models) catering to different customer segments and/or particular customer needs.

    … “patients” would become “customers”, which would drive a much needed change in the focus of activities of all healthcare participants.

  7. hlthblog says:

    Thanks Jose.  You’re "right on the money".  The patient must be at the center.

    Bill Crounse, MD

  8. kim brett says:

    I have wanted "Disney to do healthcare" since my first visit to WDW.

    Whilst at WDW people acknowledged me, were courteous and answered all of my needs. When I returned to work (large teaching hospital) the contrast was instantaneous. No welcome, no acknowledgement. This is the experience of our patients and relatives. Sometimes on days when their life would never be the same again.

    There are so many lessons we could and should learn from Disney.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts – its great to know there are like minded people around!

  9. hlthblog says:


    Thanks for writing.   While visiting the Disney Institute, one of the things that really impressed me was a culture that dictates that it is every employee’s responsibility to maintain the company’s high standards.  A company VP took us on a behind-the-scenes tour of Walt Disney World.  All along the way, he kept bending over to pick up small bits of litter.  He would put them in is pocket or throw them into a trash bin.  He talked about every employee as a cast member who had an important role to play.  He clearly distinguished between behavior and expectations "on-stage" in view of the public, and "off-stage".  Imagine if every person who worked in a hospital had the "patient experience" first in mind.  What a different experience it would be.

    Bill Crounse, MD    Worldwide Health Director   Microsoft

  10. Trust in a Medical Setting.

    Experience dealing with a host of difficult to impossible situations may help others in their encounters with these difficult and distrusting patients. These individuals may make up a small per cent of patients and family members, probably less than 2 per cent, but take up 90 per cent of energy in coping with day-to-day conflicts that arise from their behavior. Difficulties managing distrustful patients and family members must be dealt with on the spot, and they don’t go away.

    Examples come from office experiences or wards, including situations that keep doctors and nurses and therapists awake at night, aggravate waking hours and poison leisure, that is, empirical, based upon experience and observation alone without science or theory. To survive an outrageous patient or relative requires resourcefulness, patience and imagination. Street wisdom learned the hard way is what I present, and without a guide or mentor to soften the bewilderment and sense of failure and frustration that accompanies these individuals. We seldom talk about these difficult, distrustful and sometimes threatening individuals amongst ourselves; rather we suffer and endure them silently, by ourselves. The problem is timeless as recorded in the world’s literature.

    Out of the wreckage of human behavior comes valued experience leading to maneuvers and tactics of survival that are appropriate to almost all aspects and settings of human interaction including day-to-day medical care.


    Trust in a Medical Setting. Hauppauge, NY: Novinka Books, Nova Science Publishers, 2006.



  11. HealthBlog says:

    Last April I posted a piece on this Blog entitled " If Disney Did Healthcare ". I commented that there

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