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.