What Healthcare can learn from the the Mac Genius Bar

This used  to work, and now it doesn’t.  Did I do something wrong?  Can you fix it?

The idea of Disney running your hospital has been around for awhile, and in terms of anticipating need and delivering a consistent and excellent experience it certainly is a model to contemplate.

Still, I think that the Genius Bar at a Mac Store is the better model.  If you are not familiar, the Genius Bar is the in-store customer support for Mac computer and mobile devices.  You walk in, check in with any employee, and then take a seat.  Your Genius comes to you, and trouble shoots your problem.

Why it matters to healthcare.

First, it is a rare person who will come in preventatively.  Most will come in under the auspices of “This used to work and now it doesn’t”.  That brings a whole different set of emotions than preventative care – and providers can be trained for the embarrassed, ashamed, aggressive, defensive background noise that comes with “this used to work and now it doesn’t”

Second, the Genius knows they are at a knowledge advantage and can react accordingly.  The Genius / clinician has to actively choose to speak to the correct level of the person they are working with.  When it becomes clear the person can keep up – they can raise the detail of the conversion – but only after they know everyone is on board.

Third, shaming doesn’t help and doesn’t bring them back.  Mac wants you as a customer, so they are going to follow the Wheaton Rule (“don’t be a d-ck!”).  By approaching even the dumbest of operator errors as simply a thing that needs fixing, a person can still be open to hearing about learning about the thing that they messed up.

Fourth, it just comes with the territory.  To own tech is to need tech support.  To have a body is to need body support from time to time.  It isn’t extra, it just comes with the territory.


As for my own experience.  I find myself at the age where my technology has become a little bit magical.  I used to understand what was happening in a computer (at least at a basic level) but not anymore and today both my computer and my phone were in need of attention.

As I went in:

1.  I was embarrassed that I couldn’t fix it myself, and that I barely understood what the computer message was telling me.

2.  My phone was doing something so erratically, I was afraid that if they couldn’t see it they couldn’t fix it – so I filmed my phone freaking out with my computer so I could show them.

3.  I had never been to a Genius Bar so I didn’t already understand what the experience was, and I was slightly uncomfortable because of it.

And then:

I walked in and looked lost for a minute.  I was approached by a clearly marked employee and checked in.  When I asked for someone to look at my phone, they made the necessary second appointment on the spot.  I was escorted to a chair.  The phone guy came to talk to me – he was standing but my chair was high enough that my power was undiminished.  When I said I had a video of the phone freaking he asked if he could see it (instead of dismissing it).  He did the major work of fixing it and cleaned it some.  The computer guy came by and he went to work with me on the computer.  He described what was happening and had me going through the steps I would need to do to fix it.  I was thanked, I was able to thank them, I packed my things and walked out the door.

That is what I want from my healthcare.

End of Life

Once in my life I gave my consent for someone to die.  I look back now at how much support, understanding, time, and love we were surrounded in and I am grateful.  I hope to never need to give my consent again.

I look at some of my favorite people and I know that they are not being clear about their end of life wishes, that they assume those who love them will rally to the moment and not ask for more time.  They hope that it will be obvious and clear that the time has come and that shock, fear, sorrow, and regret will not cloud anyone’s thinking.

Not many of them know about the chaplain who saw me look up to the acoustic tiles when I said, “I’m ready to wake up now”.  Nobody was in the room with me the first time when the chaplain (mercy, poor man) said that they expected my husband to die.

I wonder if it is the same for everyone, but for me hearing that from the chaplain (12 years and 1 day ago) made clear to me that we all get to die.  We all get to have that experience on some random day that we cannot predict.  For as little control as I will have – I have this — I will die without regret.


“They told me she died peacefully,” she said.

Stunned, I remembered the Code Blue I’d witnessed, and couldn’t find the words to answer.

KevinMD.com is an interesting group of articles – emotional, clinical, business related, and amazing.  It isn’t always great – but it is never a waste of time.  Check them out!.

Link Love and Commentary

I have been keeping a few articles open in tabs all week because I wanted to bring them together…

#1 – AARP talking about how (and what) to organize as a caregiver.  Excellent group of things and I cannot imagine what I would add.

#2 Turning web words into audio files.  Nick is talking specifically about journal articles but I don’t think the web reader would be that picky.  Great resource for people who want to stay connected to news and hobbies but can no longer comfortably read or sit at a computer.

#3 Shared Medical Appointments. Build community, get questions answered, hear both clinical and layperson suggestions for adaptation – what more could you want?  Of course, then the other people in the room know you have a specific condition but that isn’t all bad.

#4 Self-Management. A logical step in healthcare as folks become more interested in maintaining their own health.  Sad that it still seems like a mystery and a clinical inconvenience for some folks but it is just what happens as patients get educated and empowered.


Now, truth time, wordpress ate this once and I really hope it doesn’t gobble it up again because as much as I love these links my generally soapbox commentary just keeps getting smaller every time.