Healthcare needs its own Disney MagicBand.

In the recent past I’ve had the joy of outpatient surgery, a visit to the dentist and a trip the optometrist. A few first-hand observations on healthcare moments that don’t need radical restructuring in order to be improved.

Let’s start with something we know and love:

1. Paperwork. Every desk I get transferred to, there’s more paperwork, much of it asking the same information, again and again. Who am I, insurance details, how will I pay.

The answer, of course, is in making personal health records/PHRs portable, yet “portable” isn’t even enough — “drop-dead-easily accessible” is what we should be aiming for. This is where wearables are an obvious choice: to approach a hospital and have them know I’m present, know who I am and who my doctor is — after HIPAA hurdles are cleared, that’s low hanging fruit. And would shave a lot of time off two key CX metrics: customer wait time and staff consulting time.

2. Expectations. My visits involved lots of shuffling around from person to person, waiting talking waiting. But each time, this unfolded with surprisingly very little context: OK, now that we’ve spoken, go wait over there. Why? With whom? What for? And for how long?

In my tiny sample most support staff still do a horrible job setting expectations, or explaining things when they don’t go well. So you wait and wait and wait, and you’re not even sure what for.

Shouldn’t there be a patient playbook of some kind: tell me what to expect and when to expect it? What a fun brief that would be to make and solve.

3. Status. Ever waited for hours for a loved one to get out of surgery, and you have no idea what’s going on? It’s incredibly frustrating because you’re never sure if you can run home for an errand or grab a bite next door. Sure, you might hear from the doctor or a nurse from time to time, but those moments are few and far between, and often they leave you fuzzier than before with respect to details.

I get it. There are countless variables that influence a surgery’s success and timing, and variables increase the likelihood of friction. And it wouldn’t be prudent to provide all details all the time. But there has to be a better way—loved ones should be empowered by at least some data suggesting what happened, what’s happening now, and what’s next.

UPS figured it out. Domino’s figured it out. And hospitals should figure it out. It’s time to bring magic-wristband thinking and tracker-like data into the doctor’s office to ease arrivals and transactions, reduce waiting time, minimize paperwork, diminish resource consulting time, and raise the bar from a minimally bearable to a tolerable, almost enjoyable guest experience.

Today healthcare as an industry that behaves as though we have very little choice. I’m looking forward to the open market solving that.

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Photo by themeparktourist via Creative Commons.