The EHR Jungle: Survival of the Fittest


In all my years working with technologies to help ophthalmologists enhance their practice of medicine, I have never seen anything quite like the process of transitioning from paper to digital medical records. In my consulting practice, I have worked with several electronic health record (EHR) companies, most recently Medflow…

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When Mayday Becomes Payday

One of the trickiest issues with technology is how to effectively support customers.    This can be as simple as helping customers recover their login to a password protected website or as complicated as setting up a new home entertainment system.


Today,  Amazon chief Jeff Bezos unveiled Mayday, a really cool approach to tackling this issue.  When you press a special “Mayday” button on their Kindle tablet, a live person appears in a video screen to help.  Within 15 seconds.  And they can takeover your screen and help you through whatever is frustrating you.     This is a game changer, and I applaud whoever came up with the name.  It is just perfect for this customer support application.


While Apple offers a similar service, it’s cumbersome (you need to call or  go to a specific support site) and it’s expensive (you need either an extended support package or be prepared to pay forty bucks for the call).    With Amazon, it’s included;  you just need to be on a wifi network.   The thought of pressing a button on a tablet and presto! – someone appears.  I couldn’t help but be reminded of The Great Gazoo appearing on the Flintsones, only this time being helpful rather than mischievous.

So, what do are you doing to go the extra distance in supporting your customers?   That same video technology is widely available via Skype, Facetime, and other free platforms.  Even further down the technology ladder, how many of you provide your cell phone to your customers?  I know several outstanding surgeons who have it on their business cards and provide them to patients just in case.   These surgeons tell me it instills great confidence and is rarely abused.


Regardless of the technology or tool being used, being accessible to customers with a human touch in the digital age is a clear winner.  I bet lots of people are going to be buying their parents a new Kindle for the holidays, especially knowing that live help is just one button away.


Note:  Click here if you want to read the full Mayday article:



Five Technologies Coming Your Way

Last month I attended The New York Times Global Forum hosted by columnist Thomas Friedman (author of The World is Flat).    This was a great day spent listening to luminaries and visionaries describe what’s going to happen in the world over the next two decades.    As an avid Sunday reader of The New York Times, I enjoyed what is best described as seeing the paper come alive on stage.

While I took lots of notes on my iPhone, I want to share five technologies that I learned about that are on the way (well, the fifth one is already here).

  1.  Ingestible Computing  –  You will soon be able to swallow a pill that will do the diagnosis from the inside and send electronically all the data to your doctor.
  2.  Mind Meld – an app under development that will listen to your conversation and send you relevant information.
  3.  Digital Eraser – The ability to erase something from your past is a business opportunity under development.
  4.  Specialized Search –  Instead of going to Google for a general search, narrower search tools will emerge (eg, black polka dot dress is better searched on Pinterest than Google).
  5.  The Sharing Economy –  Uber, AirBnB, and Freewheel are examples of how the internet is connecting people with excess capacity to those who need services.  This is just getting underway and will expand dramatically despite the attempts by taxi companies, hotels, and others who want to monopolize their markets.


I had tweeted the “ingestible computing” technology from the event and thought these others were curious enough to warrant going out via my blog.   The day gave me a lot of ideas for future content with respect to how all this technology can serve to enhance the customer experience.   I look forward to sharing that in future posts!

My Own Personal Nordstrom Story

Most of you have heard the legendary story about how someone returned a set of tires to Nordstrom, which they took back no questions asked.   It’s part of their legacy for legendary service and taking care of the customer.

A few months ago, I went to pick up two pairs of suit pants that were needed for a business trip starting the following day.  After 20 minutes, he asked if they could deliver them to my home later that evening, so I left the store and headed back to my office.  Around 5 pm, I received a phone call from Justin, the now exasperated (and embarrassed) manager who said they have searched everywhere, cannot find the pants, and asked if I could come in by 6 pm to be fitted for two new suits to replace the items they lost.   It was the last thing I needed that day, but what choice did I really have?


I got there at 6 pm and several suits were already in place for me to try on.  The store manager came over and apologized profusely, giving me her card and asking me to have dinner at the café on her.  “But I have ten children and they’re all hungry,” I exclaimed (note:  I was kidding).   “That’s fine, bring ‘em all,” she replied without missing a beat.   I left the store a short while later with two beautiful suits in hand;  they did not charge me for these suits and Justin exclaimed, “this is on us.”


In one sense, I was blown away.  I didn’t ask for or expect to be treated this way.  Yet this is how I would have handled it if in their situation.  And it only served to reinforce to me what is called The Nordstrom Way.  I now had my own personal “can you believe what Nordstrom did” story.


My appreciation for how Justin handled this only got greater when I had two other weird mishaps in the next few weeks.   The Ritz Carlton nearest us in Half Moon Bay is known for their Mothers Day Brunch.  It’s a buffet meant for people who don’t ever go to buffets.  The food was great, but the service was terrible.   And the Ritz Carlton is known for their service.    The manager politely said he would take care of the problem, but it took almost a week to hear back from his boss and get it resolved.     And I won’t go into great detail about Best Buy and the effort it took to get a remote control replaced that was under warrantly.  It took three trips to the store, two visits from the Geek Squad, and over two weeks.

In the hyperfast world of today, how fast you respond to a situation matters just as much as responding in the first place.  The lesson here for each of us is simple.  When something goes wrong for the customer, don’t just fix it.  Fix it fast.


Handled well, a customer’s issue can bond them even more to you and your business.   Handled slowly, a customer’s issue can bubble up into a bunch of negative feelings that forever affect how they perceive your business.


PS.  Justin called several days later to tell me they had found the suit pants and asked when I could come by to pick them up.   “Now you have four suits, and we are again so sorry for the inconvenience.”    Where do you think I’ll be buying clothes from now on?



Dialogue trumps monologue in the premium practice game.

Practice development professionals across all medical specialties and demographics have historically recommended soliciting—and acting on—feedback from patients and staff. Although this advice is universally accepted, customer relations professionals such as George Taylor suggest that the dialogue that emerges from this dynamic is even more valuable in settings like premium IOL practices, where out-of-pocket payment is critical to fiscal solvency…


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