Some moments in life are profoundly important. Perhaps you’ve saved carefully for years to take your family on a special vacation. Or perhaps you’ve just been given a life-changing diagnosis that’s left you in a state of shock.

Whether positive or negative, in a moment that important, you’re living in an altered state. Things might seem overwhelming, with the world moving too fast for you to understand what’s going on; or you may freeze, and it may feel like reality has slowed to a crawl. Either way, you know one thing: this is an experience you will never forget.

To Make Moments Matter, Think Like the Customer
In a recent Digital Health Coalition Live Virtual Summit, speaker Scott Vedder discussed the importance of customer experience in those moments. Vedder has worked for Disney for decades, starting out as a housekeeping intern, and today serving as a senior facilitator with the Disney Institute consultancy.

Apart from long waits, the parallels between theme parks and healthcare might not be immediately apparent, but Vedder presented his case compellingly and gave his audience a great deal to consider.

In a Disney park, the “cast members” (employees) are carefully trained to consider that “once-in-a-lifetime-ness” that all of the guests they encounter are experiencing. While for them, it may just be a workday like any other, that day for a theme park guest is outstandingly unusual – and the tiniest change in a cast member’s behavior can be memorable for a guest’s lifetime.

Work is work, and sometimes, everyone’s work can become rote. In pharma marketing, we all know, of course, that the design or the copy or the site or the tool or the event we’re creating is intended for a patient or a caregiver or a healthcare professional. It might feel silly asking someone to remember that. We know. Of course we know. We work really hard to know our audiences like the backs of our hands.

What’s It Really Like to Be Them?
But how often do we pause and consider whether we really know what it might be like to be them?

Scott shared a story of one member of the security team who regularly carried an autograph book so that he could request autographs from all of the tiny dressed-up “princesses” he crossed paths with throughout his day in the Magic Kingdom. A little thing for him, but something that child might remember and retell for the rest of their life. That princess would feel important and valued and individually considered, because that employee remembered that their day was full of potentially profoundly important moments.

What would you be feeling if you were up late, researching treatment options for a beloved parent or grandparent, trying to parse medical terms you’d never seen as part of taking on a caregiving role for the person who once took care of you?

What would you want to know if your doctor had just told you that your chronic condition might finally have a new treatment option that could give you back parts of your life that you thought you’d lost?

How well would your comprehension skills be functioning if your child was sick and scared, and their nurse was trying to tell you how to give them their new medicine?

In healthcare, our work is always about momentous moments. In each normal workday for us, countless people around the world are experiencing profoundly important healthcare moments – and what we do with our work can change those experiences. We can help people more, at the times when it matters most, if we can truly try to put their experience in mind.