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Do you want to be Dorney Park, Six Flags, or Disney? What health systems can learn from an iconic brand to help spark their digital transformation.

by | Mar 20, 2023

The last five years have shown that consumers are loyal to brands that deliver convenience and personalization. The demand has grown dramatically for digital experiences that know consumers well, are ultra-efficient, and guide them through a simple, intuitive end-to-end journey. A company that engineers this into their product can evolve into a trusted brand.

If we examine how one of the best in the business does this, Disney, health systems can take a valuable comparative look at where they are on the spectrum and how to evolve. Dorney Park is a simple amusement park: you show up and go on rides.  Six Flags is an extremely thrilling experience that levels up to a higher quality experience.  Disney transcends this type of single-dimension classification, interweaving compelling content with unforgettable consumer experiences to create an enduring and iconic brand.

product companies view every part of the journey as part of the product, from messaging, website, packaging, digital applications, functions, physical locations, how employees greet you, and data. 

What can health systems learn from Disney’s playbook?

Disney leverages their content and creates an immersive experience from the very beginning.  They have invested in a digital platform, content hardware, hiring and developing great people, real estate, quality, designers, amenities, and growing their footprint for scale.  Sound familiar?  Health systems have some of the same components, but are under investing in areas, weighting priorities and risk differently, and have much work to do bringing it all together cohesively as a product.

This is the difference between a service-oriented organization like a hospital vs a product and brand-oriented organization like Disney.  The DNA is different – product companies view every part of the journey as part of the product, from messaging, website, packaging, digital applications, functions, physical locations, how employees greet you, and data.  When there is an integration or hand-off needed they try to vertically integrate that function with great focus and priority. Hospitals and physician groups have been coming together to form Integrated Delivery Networks for years. These IDNs were created for different reasons though, usually to achieve critical mass network effects and desire for higher negotiating power and sharing of admin functions, not for consumer productization.  Product thinking can be injected into health systems though through training and leveraging strategic partner expertise.

Let’s compare the components in an end-to-end journey to get a sense of the opportunity that healthcare has to learn from the Disney model:

  1. Content is king as a foundation to the brand
    Disney:Through movies, shows, and memorable stories they hook a captive loyal audience.
    Health system opportunity: Online education, research papers, videos about conditions, procedures, and physician examiners are gold to target audiences searching for details and quality.  Top quality doctors and facilities are sought after. Make sure you can recruit them and showcase them.
  2. Leadership that tries new things and figures out what works for the industry
    Disney:  One of the original pioneers of animated films, continuously pushes the envelope with new animation technology. After acquiring Pixar, Disney evolved to stream their content online with Disney+.
    Health system opportunity:  Invest in R&D, talk about it, make it easier for patients to discover and enroll in trials, and experiment with bringing it forward in a safe and innovative way.  Be a leading system by trying new models of care and new technologies and don’t settle for mediocrity in experience. It should match clinical quality.
  3. Starting Digital
    Disney:  Has a great online storefront and app so you can plan your trip in detail before arriving at a theme park.  Explore all your options and then book.
    Health system opportunity:
      Ensure you have good discoverability through find-a-doctor search that can match insurance, location, sub-specialty, and availability, ultimately allowing self-service online scheduling.  Offer symptom-based guided triage for people that are not sure what they need in a virtual automation and step-up to a live clinician as needed.
  4. Experience leading up to the main event
    Disney:  From the second you step off the airplane they offer travel to their hotel.  The hotel staff is as friendly as the theme park characters and the hotel has branded content everywhere and direct air gondolas and monorails right into their parks.  They have gone above and beyond to make sure travel and lodging are fully integrated into one seamless experience to get you to the good stuff with pleasure.  In the parks, lines waiting to get on rides have interactive features that make them an integral part of the rides.
    Health system opportunity:
      Ensure your patients can fill out their health assessments ahead of time, check-in, have directions, offer a ride and parking assistance.  Let them know what to expect ahead of time, If some lab work is required beforehand to make a more productive visit.  Re-think the waiting room at practices and the ED to be informative and productive with MA welcomes, nurse vitals, and personalized educational videos to their phone on arrival.
  5. Frictionless experience
    Disney:  They understand their users and build convenience into their app that drastically improves the experience.  You can see ride wait times and sign up for “fast pass” express lanes at certain rides in assigned time-windows; they optimize their supply chain and logistics and give you transparency and control into that system.  They invest in hardware with the magic band so locks, ticketing, payments, and rides are easy, even for children to engage with.
    Health system opportunity:
      Show physician schedules, show ED wait times, if cancellations happen proactively offer up earlier times to waiting patients.  Connect devices that keep an eye onmonitor patients’ vitals.  Your app should be their guide and go-to interaction point for all tasks.  Their personalized care plan should feel relevant and useful, with a persistent connection to their care team.
  6. Platform, data, and membership
    Disney:  Their platform knows me, and my family unit.  It understands parents and kids, our travel itinerary, what movie we last watched on Disney+, and their new Genie guide helps me plan and proactively reaches out at each step.  They convert me to a Disney membership with discount deals and options for vacation club timeshares and special events.
    Health system opportunity:
      Leverage the immense amount of data you have by converting it to actionable insights.  Know which patients have care gaps, are due for screenings, and are at high risk.  Enable family sharing because sickness is personal and health requires a team.  Keep adding more digital features to a platform that you can grow with, so it’s cohesive and organized.  Explore new models of care, letting patients know they are in an ACO and options for concierge feel membership.

In Summary

If that list gets you excited, you may be a fit for Tendo’s early strategic customer partnership program.  Tendo is partnering with leading healthcare organizations so our platform and solutions are informed by health system needs and we can orchestrate an amazing guided Patient Care Journey experience.


See some similarities with Disney?


Disney app screens
Tendo app screens
Ben Maisano

Ben Maisano

SVP, Head of Stragegy

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