A hospital Disneyland? OK by me

John Taylor: March 03, 20080 Comments

Been to Disneyland. Once. Maybe go again, if some future grandkid insists.

Been to hospitals (as patient, visitor, employee) enough times to be occasionally surprised, regularly dismayed, sometimes angered, infrequently completely satisfied and always wanting to improve the experience.

Now the Army is trying an infusion of the Disney culture. They paid Disney $800,000 to dialyze the crappy atmosphere at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where the media showcased injured vets living in squalor with care lost in an arsenal of hurry-up-and-wait, shut-up-your-face.

The Army has joined the FBI, CIA and other agencies in attitude adjustment training, the Washington Post reported. At Walter Reed, 2,000 workers will go through -- all right, let's get it said -- Mickey Mouse training. (Trainers do hand out Goofy and Mickey Mouse trinkets.) The lesson, says the Post, is "poor service equals frustration."

Amen. Wounded and multiple-traumatized vets deserve better. Every patient deserves a five-star hotel experience. That's why Disney refers to patients as "guests." The Post quoted Disney trainer Mike Donnelly: "Get in a wheelchair and look at these processes through the shoes of your patient."

Community Medical Center adopted that approach a couple of years back with its Target 100 program -- the standard is 100% (measurable) satisfaction among patients, employees and medical staff.  Make an error? Make it right. Times of high anxiety? Give explanations, updates, smile. A spoonful of sugar? You bet.

Whether it's Target 100 or web-footed wisdom from the Disney Empire, the benchmark for hospitals ought to be delivering (supercalifragilisticexpialidocious) quality care in an upbeat manner -- consistently.