Fort Worth,
10:43 AM

A small world after all

Endocrinologist on what he learned from 'If Disney Ran Your Hospital'

Perhaps, only a few people might have asked that question until a month ago. Much anger and indignation was directed towards the VA chief when he compared waiting times for VA medical appointments to waiting in line at Disney.

I’d be hard pressed to compare waiting for a doctor’s appointment including an appointment with me to the anticipation of waiting in line for any Disney ride or show.

It happens that the question about Disney and healthcare actually crossed my mind in March. While checking in on Twitter, I came across an intriguing book mentioned by one of the folks whom I follow: @JohnNosta.

The skeptic in me wondered how the entertainment industry could have any relevance to health care. Fortunately, the curious skeptic in me decided to buy the book and learn more.

The author approaches healthcare from a business, non-physician perspective focused on serving patients and those who care for patients. I found some fresh perspectives that I think will help me going forward.

Here are three pearls that I got out of the book.

Pearl 1: A focus on loyalty and not satisfaction

Loyalty and trust are different from satisfaction. Loyalty is built on a consistent caring and engaged compassion. Loyalty is built in large part by creating a memorable event in a patient care experience.

Pearl 2: Courtesy is more important than efficiency

A commitment to courtesy both improves experience and can lead to opportunities for efficiency improvement.

A focus on the satisfaction and service for others in your institutional may improve responsiveness and lead to better sharing of resources.

Pearl 3: Create a climate of dissatisfaction

Dissatisfaction with the status quo combined with the dream for what can be are key ingredients in growth and improvement. Even when all measures are near the top, there will always be room for improvement.Final Thoughts

I don’t believe it’s completely valid to compare the work done by me and others at Cook Children’s to work done in other service fields. Stakes and expectations are much higher - solving a problem, managing chronic illness, fixing a hurt - than getting a Starbucks order right or the thrill of a roller coaster ride.

Still we are all compared to real life experiences. Waiting in line is seldom fun. And the ride is sometimes not a ride the child or family would choose. We can still strive to make the experience as pleasant as possible.

About the author

Joel Steelman, M.D., is an endocrinologist at the Cook Children's Endocrine and Diabetes program, which treats infants, children and teens with conditions that are caused by or affect the hormonal balance of the body. We understand the importance of working together and that's how we approach the care of our children.