Understanding how designers create theme parks could help us reimagine our most important social institutions.
The technologies and narrative devices common at theme parks could be easily applied to other institutions. Consider the hospital or medical clinic of the near future. While you don’t expect to have fun visiting one of these places, you do at least hope to avoid being overwhelmed, bored, annoyed, confused, or frightened. Taking a “guest-first” approach, in the parlance of the theme park industry, the hospital offers a computer system that, through a series of encounters, gets to know you, and across visits remembers you and your medical history. It allows the hospital to route you through an experience that feels relatively stress-free, intuitive, supportive and, most importantly, centered around you. Logistics like transportation are orchestrated for you, redundant administrative tasks are minimized, and doctors and nurses have information at their fingertips that helps them put your care first. Something that is typically cold and impersonal becomes simple and human, not just while you’re in the building, but before and after your visit, within the larger context of your personal health.