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This isn't about arguing the merits of opening or closing Disney parks in various locations. An interesting topic for someone else. This is about what Disney World is doing to protect its guests and staff during a time of a pandemic. 

  

Transcript

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 Today in health it, this story is my trip to Disney World. My name is Bill Russell. I'm a former CIO for a 16 hospital system and creator of this week in Health IT a channel dedicated to keeping health IT staff current and engaged. I wanna thank our sponsor for today's show, Sirius Healthcare. They reached out about this time last year and said we'd love what you're doing and really appreciate your mission to develop the next generation of health IT leaders.

Uh, the rest is really history, as they say. If you believe in our mission as well and wanna support our show, please shoot me a note at partner at this week in health it.com. Alright, on to today's story. I went to Disney World. Today's story isn't about the merits of shutting down Disneyland, California versus opening Disney World, Florida.

It's, it's about what I saw on the trip to Disney World in Florida and, and what that might mean for your health system. I. You know, for starters, you know, the messaging starts when you book the trip. Covid restrictions are stated clearly on the reservation page, and almost annoyingly every time you receive an email, you're, you're reminded of the covid restrictions and what's going on.

They're limiting the amount of people that can get into the parks. They are limiting the, because of social distancing, they're limiting the amount of reservations, all that stuff. Uh, the fact that you need to be wearing a face mask at all times on property, and if you can't abide by that, you're gonna be asked to leave.

Social distancing is practiced at all times in the parks. Capacities have been diminished. As I said, they're diminished in the hotels and in the restaurants, and they aren't kidding about the restaurants, by the way. We ate out one night out of the three. We were there because we were unable to get reservations for dinner in any of the restaurants listed in the app.

And I think that includes the 70 plus restaurants that they have in Disney Springs. The first thing you're gonna notice upon arriving at the park. Is you're driving into the parking lot and the, the thing is that the trams aren't working. The trams that take you from the car to the park aren't running.

And I'm guessing that's a mix between a staffing issue potentially, and Disney's acknowledgement that that controlling the natural congregation or the line forming that happens in the parking lot was too much to control. So no trams. Right. If you remember how that would work. Everybody would park and then they'd walk down to the end of the aisle.

Then they would sort of stand there until the next tram would come up, and they probably just looked at that and said, nah, this is too hard to handle. People will have to walk to the front gate. So that's the first thing that you notice. The next thing is that everyone is wearing a mask, and I mean.

Everyone. If you are on the campus in Disney World, you are wearing a mask. And if you're not, they'll ask you politely to please put it on. And if you don't, they will ask you politely to leave. And then if you don't, they will, I assume ask them in the unpleasant way that they would at Disney to leave. As you approach the entrance, you're going to notice the next thing is a.

A couple of large Advent health tents that everyone passes through to have their temperature screening. Perfect. No, I get it. It's not perfect, but still it'll, it will identify some cases, normal security follows, but here's where you see green markers on the ground for the first time, which signify the right distance to stand from each other, right?

So as soon as you start to hit any aspect of a line, you're gonna see these stickers and they're spaced out about six feet apart. And it's in every line across the entire park. But this is the first time you see it. It's the first time you experience it. You just have to get used to it. They are everywhere.

So if you decide to take the monorail, what you're gonna see is that they've installed barriers in this public transportation like vehicle. So in each car, what used to be, you know, I, I guess each car had about four benches, maybe six benches, and each two would face each other. And, and now they have compartments.

They, they've separated the, the seating into compartments with makeshift plastic barriers. So my wife and I got into a compartment for two, and there's compartments for four. Everyone is masked up and the groups are protected from one another by these plastic barriers. As you get off, you're gonna notice the hand sanitizer stations.

And quite frankly, they're everywhere. Anywhere you have the potential for touching a surface, they are gonna have hand sanitizers there. We headed off for Space Mountain, which is of course what you do. You walk down Main Street and you head off for, for Space Mountain. But you know, another thing you'll notice is there's lines to get in the stores.

Again, six foot spacing. They're only letting so many people in the stores, so they've, they've obviously reduced the number of people total that can be in the park. There was a fair number of people in the park, though, I will say that. Ride lines are still, you know, 60 minutes, 70 minutes. They're, uh, the Pandora ride was up to 90 minutes.

So there, these were t typical ride line kinds of things for Disney World. So we head off to Space Mountain and the line was massive, but it, it really wasn't. What they've done is they wind the line around the outside in the open air. With social distancing from the time you actually enter the building until the time you're on the ride is only about 10 minutes tops.

And when you get on the ride, you're gonna notice that they've also installed those barriers between the passengers. You know, similar to the plastic barriers on the monorail, they are now on almost every ride. That you have multiple seats back to back with each other. They put plastic in between those.

The line management was extremely creative. I, I talked about the, how they did it for Space Mountain. Again, most of that, that ride line was on the inside and they, they took you back and forth. You were never really within about six feet of anyone else. Based on how they did the, the, the lines and that is there, there's a lot of creativity involved.

The most creative probably was the, uh, soaring over the world. It used to be soaring over California. It's now called Soaring Over the World, and we started the, the line down the hall and then went out an emergency exit and wound around the back lot. Uh, of Epcot before entering the building again through another emergency exit that was just a few feet away from where we had exited the building.

And again, you were outside for a majority of the line, six foot away from each other. Socially distanced cleaning crews were exceptional. Uh, they're always exceptional at Disney Parks, right? This is one of the things that they're known for. You don't see gum. You don't see trash on the ground and those kind of things in, in this case, they, they didn't disappoint in what they were doing.

Several times I saw people wiping down handrails inside the ride lines and around the park. They were wiping down trash cans anywhere where somebody could, uh, you know, touch those surfaces and whatnot. They were wiping them down, doing a complete cleaning. Tables, you name it, they were cleaning them. So there was a lot.

I, I think a lot more people doing that type of cleaning all throughout the day. It was really impressive. The digital experience is key. Once again, I believe their app is actually called the Digi, the the Disney Digital Experience. Or it might be just called the Disney Experience. Most. Menus. Most restaurant menus are now QR codes that you, you know, you go in there, you scan the QR code, and then the menu pops up on your phone.

Uh, in a lot of cases, you'll order with the server as they come to your table, but the, the entire menus on your phone, all reservations for restaurants are handled on the app. Even the walk-up food, there is no congregating, right? So the, if you remember how the walk-up food would work is they just put people in queues and they'd come up to the register.

Very few registers, there's just no congregating. So we ordered our walk-up meal on the phone, and then it said, you can now pick it up at, you know, window three. And we approached the window, we got our food, we walked away. Every transaction was a touchless transaction and every employee had a mask or was behind a shield of some kind.

A couple of other things you're gonna notice, maybe the negatives of what was going on, right? Uh, but when you think about it, they all had reasons. They have really thought through, as you would expect from Disney. They thought through a lot of stuff. No fireworks. . Okay, so why wouldn't you do fireworks?

Well, because they can't control the crowds. If you do fireworks, people are gonna congregate in an area, and there was no way for them to put a green mark all over the park to say four fireworks stand here. So they had to step back and say, we know this is part of the Disney experience. We can't do it.

What they did do is they put the fireworks display on the TV and they played it a couple times a night. And that's if you're staying in a Disney resort, which a lot of people are. And so you can tune, tune to that channel and watch it at eight o'clock, 8 30, 9 o'clock, nine 30 and whatnot. Clearly not the same thing, but you know, as you sit around and try to make these decisions, how are you gonna keep the crowds from congregating?

That's one of the decisions they had to make. One of the trade-offs, there was no parades. Again, 'cause you can't control the crowds. They did have like these spontaneous, what, what my wife called was like a parade vignette. They would, they would come out of nowhere. It would be one car. And they would disappear as fast as they came on.

We saw one car come with three Disney princesses. It, it came in through this side entrance. Somehow it went down the road a little bit and then it just veered off. So they wanted to make sure that a buzz didn't start and all of a sudden lines start. They just sort of made that happen and they, you know, as fast as it started it, it ended.

The characters didn't mix and mingle and you know, we, it was things like we saw a character on balconies. We saw Winnie the Pooh with a butterfly net out catching butterflies in an open green space that that guests could not get to and wouldn't congregate to see either. I. You know, the, the characters on balconies, the characters at a distance.

That was how they did it. 'cause when you think about it, if a character shows up, the kids are going to drag their parents to the character. And, and Disney's not gonna put the parents in that situation. Finally, there was, there was next to no live shows. And this is because, uh, really I think this was because of the safety of the entertainers.

They inter interact in ways that they couldn't control. And so they were trying to control the, uh, environment as much as possible. You know, I will say that some of the Disney magic is lost because of this. I saw Disney employees remind people to keep their masks on. So if you're wondering if people all adhere to it, there was times people were popping the masks off.

And the Disney employees, it's amazing. I mean, they're, they're looking for it. They're out there and they're so kind in the way they do it. But they, they would remind people, in fact, we heard the phrase about a million times. Please keep your mask fully over your nose, fully over your mouth about a million times while we're there.

Here's my so what? Two things here. I would say, look at what Advent Health has done here, and ask yourself what organizations in your community need the help and brand of your health system to open effectively. This is a revenue opportunity. It's a partnering opportunity. It's a community building opportunity.

So Advent Health is partnered with Disney, and I think they provide the care in the parks as well. They provide the first stage stations and those kind of things. So it was a natural extension, but now they have the tents and their people are there and they're clearly marked. They have Advent Health shirts on, and they're doing the temperature screening.

The second thing from a Health IT perspective is that you can't invest enough right now in your digital experience. Safety is gonna be top of mind for the foreseeable future and perhaps the pandemic. Will be to our generation what the great depression was to our great grandparents generation, right? It may leave an indelible mark on our psyche and we may always wash our hands and look for touchless transactions and those kind of things.

Who knows? Either way, the pandemic changed how we engage brands and services. , your digital journey is your brand journey moving forward. If you can't articulate it clearly, you may not have one and you may lose business. This isn't an IT project, but they are looking to it in many cases to lead it, and that may be why we are seeing so many IT leaders.

Take on digital roles and digital titles these days. Alright, that's all for today. If you know of someone that might benefit from our channel, please forward them a note. They can subscribe on our website this week, health.com, or wherever you listen to podcast. Apple, Google Overcast, Spotify, Stitcher. You get the picture.

I. We're everywhere. We wanna thank our channel sponsors who are investing in our mission to develop the next generation of health leaders, VMware Hillrom, Starbridge Advisors, McAfee and Aruba Networks. Thanks for listening. That's all for now.

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