Do it like Disney: Developing Orthopedic Centers of Excellence

May 25, 2016
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I just returned from attending the National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses (NAON) Annual Congress, which this year was held on site at Walt Disney World. It got me thinking about what kind of lessons orthopedic programs can learn from the “house of mouse.”

I just returned from attending the National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses (NAON) Annual Congress, which this year was held on site at Walt Disney World. It got me thinking about what kind of lessons orthopedic programs can learn from the “house of mouse.”

The Walt Disney Company is the proud owner of one of the most successful brands in the world. With a market value of  $169.3 billion and 185,000 employees as of today, according to Forbes magazine, the company not only has a flourishing business model, it also is known for its high standards. And this success isn’t an accident. Disney’s internationally recognized excellence has been developed through an effective business strategy that combines an all-encompassing vision with extreme attention to detail.

There’s a lot that orthopedic programs can learn from the Disney way of doing business, especially as providers receive increasing pressure to provide value-based care, decreasing their costs while simultaneously improving patient outcomes. Adding a little magic to the process by using Disney strategies can help transform ordinary programs into orthopedic centers of excellence.

Sweating the details
Ever been to one of the Disney theme parks? What makes the experience extraordinary is the extreme attention to detail that goes into everything from the rides to the lamp posts. It’s a big reason why people continue to go back to the parks again and again.

 

In the same way, attention to detail is critical when it comes to developing your orthopedic center of excellence. Be sure that you have marketing and operational plans in place that cover both the big picture and the miscellaneous details that are needed to meet your goals. Physician alignment is an area where attention to detail is particularly important. With providers from different backgrounds and practices working together, it’s critical to keep a close eye on the patient journey to ensure that there are no holes or overlap in the different transitions across the episode of care.

Standardizing the process
The Walt Disney Company operates like a well-oiled machine. Each piece of the process feeds into the other components to increase customer satisfaction and maximize business profits. Movies inspire new rides, which bring customers into parks who buy merchandise. Those profits then fund more movies. Every component of the company is a cog in the machine that seamlessly sends consumers on to the next part of the business.  The parks move millions of people each day between airports, resorts, restaurants, ticket turnstyles and ride queues.

One reason that the process runs so smoothly is because of the emphasis placed on standardization. Disney is both a large company and one that is very tightly branded. To accomplish this feat, it has had to be sure that processes, policies and expectations are uniform across all of its components. If the new Cars Land in Disneyland didn’t match every detail of the movie and merchandising guests would have been left confused and disappointed. If every quick service restaurant on property had a different procedure both employees and customers would get lost and frustrated. Standardization is critical to achieve the best possible Disney experience.

Centers of excellence also need to have a high level of standardization to become known for providing extraordinary patient care. An increasing number of providers are finding that standardizing medical procedures and processes are vital to value-based care and better patient outcomes. For example, Joe Landsman, the president and CEO of the University of Tennessee Medical Center, told Modern Healthcare that standardizing and coordinating care at his medical center has dramatically improved mortality rates for a number of diagnoses and lowered the rate of complications. Just as inconsistencies across Disney’s offerings would leave people unsatisfied, a lack of standardization will cause confusion and problems for your staff and patients alike.

Sharing a team vision
How does Disney operate so smoothly and efficiently? A large component is its team’s dedication to a shared vision. From the company CEO down to the cast members who sweep Main Street, every member of the Disney team understands the company’s vision and their role in achieving those goals.

Similarly, Becker’s ASC Review reported that a consensus on vision is one of the most important success factors for a center of excellence. If you want to take your program to the next level, you need every member of your team to be on board with your vision. From administrators to surgeons, each individual plays a role that contributes to providing the ultimate experience in patient-centered care. Sharing a vision and working well together toward that goal is critical.

According to TIME magazine, Disney so strongly believes in the importance of teamwork that it has a buddy system that pairs workers with someone in a different job. Each person spends time shadowing the other to better understand their work, as the company believes that understanding breeds appreciation. When people understand the different roles on their team, they have a deeper appreciation of their shared vision.

 

Emphasizing customer experience 
Perhaps the most critical element of the success of the Disney theme parks is customer service. The company is widely known for its attention to the satisfaction of its guests and consumers. There’s a reason that Disneyland has been called the happiest place on earth, after all. It’s a title that was earned by the company’s commitment to providing the best possible theme park experience.

In fact, the Disney Institute even offers a number of seminars and training programs to teach employees in different fields how to better serve their clients. Customer happiness is an important metric that transcends business specialties and everyone can learn a little more about it from Disney.

While you may be hard-pressed to convince patients that your orthopedic center is in fact the happiest place on earth, emphasizing customer experience can go a long way in improving patient care. According to Becker’s Spine Review, centers of excellence should treat their patients like guests. Find ways to alleviate patient anxiety, whether it’s through improved educational experiences, or little perks such as providing hotel-like amenities to inpatients. Like Disney magic, the little touches you add to improve the experience for your patients will go a long way in cementing your position as a center of excellence.