The Sledgehammer

Delivering Disney Magic to Healthcare

November 8, 2021

Fun fact: a core tenet of Disney’s current theme park strategy was inspired by… the ankle monitor.

Credit: Bracelet électronique.JPG from Wikimedia Commons by Jérémy-Günther-Heinz Jähnick, CC-BY-SA 3.0

Several years ago, the team behind Disney Cruises needed to solve a problem: they were chaperoning children’s activities onboard their ships but had no efficient way to ensure all kids were safe and accounted for. Stopping activities every 30 minutes for roll call was not a very magical experience. So they turned to monitoring technologies which, thus far, had been used to keep track of criminals and dementia patients.

And so the Disney Magic Band was born. Then it kept growing.

After showing success on ships, Magic Bands were brought to dry land and given for free to every visitor of the company’s theme parks. Combined with the proliferation of the Internet of Things, a Magic Band had the capability to create an enchanted experience for visitors. Just wave it like your own magic wand to unlock the door to you resort hotel room, pay for food, and even ride the Magical Express.

Credit: Disney

But the bands went beyond the practical: Imagine a 5-year-old walking through the Magic Kingdom at Disney World. She spies Cinderella across the way and runs over to say hello. Cindy greets the child by name, says she remembers meeting her last year, and asks how she enjoyed her visit to Epcot Center the previous day.

That’s right, the bands can even enable characters to “know” a child’s name and Disney experience history.

Since the band’s initial launch, Disney has transferred these same capabilities to the magical instrument that most adults have in their pockets: a smartphone. Through geolocation and user input, the Disney Experience app delivers a whole host of services that streamline and enhance a visitor’s park experience.

This is called a “connected strategy” and it has the ability to increase a customer’s willingness to engage/buy while often creating cost efficiencies for the business, according to Wharton School professors Nicolaj Siggelkow and Christian Terwiesch. The linchpin of a connected strategy is going from reactive, disconnected interactions between a customer and a brand to proactive, interwoven experiences that position the brand as a helpful guide.

There are 4 different categories of connected strategies you can explore:

Responding to a desire

In these cases, a brand is meeting a customer need highly effectively—rapidly and/or broadly—as soon as the customer has it. Amazon, Lyft, and AirBnB do this. In pharma, does it sound like… a chatbot to anyone?! Imagine your customer wants information and engages the chatbot, which then triggers an AI-based cascade of information and support that helps that customer in the short term and anticipates their needs in the longer term.

Curating an offering

Netflix gives us content suggestions, but pharma can do it too. Marketers can use a CRM engine to recommend content for HCP emails, based on prior conversations between individual HCPs and their sales reps. And the more the CRM gets to know an HCP, the better its recommendations get.

Coaching behavior

For pharma, this one is a no-brainer—hello, adherence. But getting patients to take their meds should only be the start of it. Health-related behavior change (weight loss, nutritional eating, smoking cessation) can all be supported by connected strategies, and lifestyle support offerings (emotional health, caregiver wellness) are ideal candidates too.

Automating execution

Here you’re anticipating and then fulfilling your customer’s needs automatically—and in many cases, before they are even aware they have a need. Prescription or inventory refills are obvious opportunities. But we can think beyond that, too: imagine a brand detecting changes in a patient’s insurance status, and then proactively alerting them and working to resolve any issues, all to ensure continuity in both the patient’s treatment and bank account.

So how do you start to design a connected strategy? Consider 3 key questions along your customer’s journey:

  1. What is the unmet need that your customer is struggling to address? In healthcare, we need to understand not only the unmet need in treatment but also the experience of receiving that treatment, where notable gaps or needs may also exist.
  2. How do your customers search for and acquire solutions to this unmet need? Patients differ in terms of where they seek information, who they trust to provide guidance, and what role they play in their own treatment decisions. Similarly, some HCPs are mavericks, willing to push the envelope to help their patients, while others take a wait-and-see approach. You will also need to consider how customers receive the product or service, whether it’s about fulfillment at the pharmacy, getting to and spending time in receiving the treatment in person, or administering it to themselves at home.
  3. What products and/or services also available to the customer? Finally, you must think about what alternative treatments and services may be available. This may not only be Rx treatments, but also OTC, alternative medicine, or lifestyle choices. These approaches may come with additional support and services, which should be considered along with the treatment itself because they can contribute to the overall brand experience, customer satisfaction, and customer loyalty.

Improving one’s health may not deliver the same warm and fuzzy feeling as being namedropped by Cinderella, but the patient and HCP experience is certainly overdue for a little magic. Delivering a connected strategy has the power to be your brand’s happily-ever-after experience. According to our aforementioned Wharton professors and their many case studies, this approach can deliver significant competitive advantages and even disrupt entire industries.

At any given time, there are hundreds of actual sledgehammers present in the Heartbeat office. To celebrate their first year on the team, each HB’er receives their very own sledge—a nod to our daily pursuit of tearing down tiresome healthcare marketing. To determine what is built in its place, we often turn to outside industries, cultural forces, and personal experiences. We eagerly share them with one another, and now we’re sharing them with you. Clear the way—here comes The Sledgehammer.