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Mickey Mouse Medicine: It starts with hiring the right "characters"

July 7, 2011
Disney understands customer service and hospitals are turning to Walt and crew for advice.

Disney knows that when an employee puts on the Goofy costume, she does not magically transform into the lovable character.  Similarly, putting on a lab coat or a name tag with a cool customer service acronym on it, does not transform someone into the caring, attentive, and compassionate person we want taking care of our patients.

With the roll-out of HCAHPS reporting, patient satisfaction scores are more important than ever.  The press release highlights the Disney’s Institute’s focus on the patient experience, but it skips the importance of selection.  Creating a patient-centric culture, certainly, requires training, but some traits are trainable and others are not.

Testing and Assessment:  An Employer’s Guide to Good Practices, published in 1999 by the Department of Labor, opens with its own Disney reference pointing out the importance of the workforce – “In today’s competitive marketplace and complex legal environment, employers face the challenge of attracting, developing, and retaining the best employees.  Michael Eisner, CEO of the Disney Corporation, recognized the impact of personnel decisions . . . when he remarked, “My inventory goes home every night.’”-

You can find stories of hospitals that made dramatic improvements in patient satisfaction which they attribute to the Disney approach, the Studor approach, or any other number of well-known programs.  For every success story, though, you can find numerous examples of the same strategies failing.  A key variable?  The quality of the leaders and managers selling the program, and the behavioral competencies of the front line workers expected to implement the changes.  Disney knows that not everyone is cut out to be Goofy or Mickey.  Not everyone is cut out for the culture you envision and you don’t have time to find that out AFTER you’ve hired them.  What are you doing, every day, to ensure that everyone you bring in has the capacity to be your Goofy or Mickey?

Bryan Warren Bryan Warren was the former Director of Healthcare Solutions at PSI. He was responsible for developing and promoting tools and services designed specifically for the unique challenges faced by healthcare organizations.