With their recent expansion news, it seems as good a time as any to indulge our imaginations and imagine a world where McDonald’s was a part of our health journey.
For instance, when COVID19 vaccinations started rolling out, I imagined a McDonald’s drive-thru lane turning into a vaccine destination.
Here’s your COVID19 shot, would you like fries with that?
And while logistically — COVID19 safety concerns and all– this would be an unlikely option, I couldn’t help but wonder what the most ubiquitous fast food chain could accomplish. With over 38,000 restaurants and locations in over 100 countries, McDonald’s has mastered scalability and customer service, becoming synonymous with “ease”. Is that not what we want for healthcare?
Now, to take a fast food chain like McDonald’s and consider it a part of the healthcare ecosystem sounds quite outlandish. McDonald’s is not known for its nutritious meals and is probably more associated with causing health issues than providing care. But there’s no denying that McDonald’s already has the consumer engagement — the type that healthcare so desperately needs.
We can work with that.
So what would a McDonald’s point of care look like?
Let’s take a dine-in example. You walk into McDonald’s for a quick bite, perhaps a coffee for your morning commute or a snack after a long day at the office. The menu overhead offers you some options and you notice a special menu that’s listed as “diabetes friendly”. It’s a list of items curated by a dietician that makes your decision-making a little easier. You order a dietician-approved snack and wait for your number to be called. While waiting by the soda fountain, a blood pressure kiosk beckons you over. You sit down, have your blood pressure read and by the time its done your food is ready. You see that your blood pressure is a little high and you ask the kiosk to send the readings to your email . Once receiving the blood pressure readings, you grab your food, fill your drink at the soda fountain and see a list of local community health services. You scan the QR code, unlocking a free coupon for a McDonald’s drink when you get your flu shot at one of the community health providers. Drink and food in hand, you head off on your day, but with a little more health resources at your disposal thanks to your McDonald’s pit stop.
What always strike me about McDonald’s was how it acted as a destination for families. I remember watching a father buy his daughter an afterschool snack and then watching her play in the indoor kid’s playground. Now what if there was exercise equipment set up, so that father could get in a few reps while his daughter plays? Oh, and don’t forget wifi. McDonald’s provides a reliable wifi connection, making it a surprisingly good choice for people on the move. So if people are frequenting McDonald’s for food, play and wifi service, couldn’t McDonalds become a health resource too?
I’m not saying McDonald’s is the ideal health partner. But it is a uniquely American company that understands American consumers and could perhaps be a part of the solution to America’s healthcare headache. Instead of admonishing people for eating at McDonald’s, it’s time we used their sources of comfort and routine to encourage healthy choices. If McDonald’s can pioneer fast food, what’s stopping them from creating a new way to experience health?