Disney is often held as one of the vanguards of customer service. They are, indeed, masters at creating memorable guest experiences in the entertainment and hospitality industries. And for years, healthcare has been looking for ways to learn from Disney in improving the patient experience. One of the most commonly borrowed Disney-isms that I see in my consulting work is the concept of “onstage and offstage.” In other words, anything that a patient hears, sees, smells, touches should be treated as “onstage.” Anything deemed “offstage” should be kept out of sight or earshot. And there is no place on earth where this is more important than in healthcare settings. Everything that the patient comes in contact with must help to instill confidence in the organization.
I recently had an experience at a hospital that reminded me of the importance of the onstage and offstage concept. I was a patient in an ambulatory surgery setting and, even though my surgeon and my nurse were very professional, informative, and did an excellent job all the way around, I heard and saw things from other staff that were definitely meant for offstage only.
I heard staff talking about their holiday dinners, their nasty in-laws, and Christmas shopping lists. I overheard health histories being taken with other patients, and, last but not least, one staff member wore an obnoxious singing hat that played a recording of “Shout!” She stood outside my door laughing and playing the recording for her colleagues, completely disregarding the fact that she was in a patient care area.
I love the holidays–I really do. But when I’m coming out of anesthesia, I don’t expect to hear loud, obnoxious music or see staff running around in blinking reindeer antlers. Believe me, I’m a firm believer in the importance of having fun at work. It’s one of the essentials of fostering an engaged workforce. But just make sure the patient experience is always at the forefront.