Big Ideas for Little Patients: Building Compassion at the Curb

A Whole New World

In March 2018, The Walt Disney Company announced a global commitment of more than $100M to reinvent the patient experience (PX) in children’s hospitals. The investment includes the development of Disney-themed treatment and patient rooms, in-room entertainment, and Disney Institute customer-experience training for clinical staff.

For us, as a service provider already employing Disney Institute’s teachings at non-clinical touchpoints, the announcement is well received. Children’s hospitals are challenged with crafting a patient experience that serves the entire family unit, not just the individual patient. Thus, Disney’s holistic approach to providing superior customer service easily and effectively maps onto the pediatric healthcare environment.

Compassion at the Curb

An undeniable part of the Disney magic for children is the fabrication of a fully immersive experience. As soon as they step through a Disney resort’s gates, they feel as if they’ve been transported into a different world.
Hospital visits don’t, by their nature, tend to elicit the same joy and awe from children. However, a similarly immersive experience, one of unbridled comfort, care, and compassion, should be created when even the smallest of feet step into the patient transition zone.

Patient Transition Zone: The physical space in which a member of the public transitions into a patient (the entry experience) or a patient transitions into a member of the public (the exit experience.)

Patient Transition Zone

At children’s hospitals, as with all healthcare campuses, interactions within patient transition zones are crucial to the continuum of patient care. It’s within this zone that children and their parents’ roles as patients and caregivers are cemented and where both form first impressions that set the tone and trajectory of the entire patient experience.

The operation of, and services within, this zone must be carefully designed with a holistic approach to care — both in terms of compassionate engagement and removing frustrating barriers.

Here are just a few of the simple upgrades we’ve been able to implement within the patient transition zones at children’s hospitals across North America. These upgrades are designed to incrementally improve patient satisfaction and create an immersive care experience:

  • Wayfinding — updating your first campus touchpoints with clear, colorful, and cheery signage and graphics can create the warm welcome that immediately projects an environment of comfort and care.
  • Music — piped into garages, shuttles, and other non-clinical areas often neglected by patient experience initiatives, music can help create a calm, soothing environment for your patients.
  • Parent-friendly amenities — simple services to help pressured parents, such as vehicle detailing, postal drop-offs, lock boxes, and laundry services, can help take a load off their minds (and to-do lists.)
  • Language translation services — in multicultural environments, language translation services promote clear communication, a vital component of stress, anxiety, and frustration mitigation.
  • Regular care assessments — ensuring everyone is transitioning into a caring environment that’s safe, well-lit, and germ-free is a fundamental right of every patient, no matter their age.

“You have the right to give your opinion, and for adults to listen and take it seriously.”
Article 12, UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (in child-friendly language)

Co-Designing the Patient Transition Zone

Studies suggest that co-designing healthcare experiences in collaboration with children and their family units can help improve quality of care — and as a primary link in the healthcare chain, the patient transition zone and services offered therein are no exception.

Child- and teen-friendly surveys, questionnaires, and feedback terminals can help gather authentic insights into how your patients feel about their surroundings to improve the experience for all.

It Comes Down to Culture

These are just some examples of the “extra care” steps Impark HEALTH takes to serve patients and parents. However, none of them can be implemented in isolation from the culture of care we’ve refined over 30 years in the healthcare industry.


Our goal is to improve the healthcare experience for patients across North America through the holistic implementation and management of patient-first parking, transportation, and wayfinding solutions. Our patient transition zone management and commitment to excellence has led us to partner with multiple hospitals featured on U.S. News’ 2017–18 Best Hospitals Honor Roll.

From small rural hospitals to metropolitan healthcare giants, we’re dedicated to helping healthcare providers of all shapes and sizes pursue The Triple Aim on both a consultative and turnkey management basis. Contact an Impark HEALTH specialist today to see how we can leverage our 15 million annual patient interactions to help you.

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