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Sick Care Tech Support, How May I Help You?


Patients move along a hierarchy of involvement with the Sick Care system. Unfortunately, when they get to the fulfillment stage, they have a hard time finding tech support.

Unfortunately, when they get to the fulfillment stage, they have a hard time finding "tech support."

I recently had an experience with HP to get my computer fixed. (I'm using the computer to write this, so the story has a happy ending.) My computer wouldn't start. I went to Best Buy where I bought it and they were clueless. So, I went to the HP website, dutifully did what I was supposed to do to troubleshoot the problem, but with no luck. I called HP tech support, and while it took 30 minutes to explain my problem to them, they told me that 1) the computer was under warranty; and 2) they would be sending me a FedEx box to return it and that I should expect it to be returned in working order in 7-10 business days. Sure enough, the box appeared, I sent it back for no charge and I began to get regular updates on the status of my machine. Five days later I received the computer in working order and now get periodic inquiries about my satisfaction with the process and whether the machine is still working right.

Suppose you are having some issues with something that was prescribed or done to you? What happens when you call “tech support”?

1. Can you access a website that helps you troubleshoot the problem?

2. Is there a toll free number you can call or do an IM chat?

3. Does someone answer the phone within three rings without sending you to phone tree hell?

4. Does the person you eventually contact have the knowledge and authority to solve your problem?

5. Do you have to pay for the service and how long does your “warranty” last?

6. Do you get periodic updates via text, email, or mobile phone on how things are progressing and whether there has been fulfillment of your needs?

7. Do you feel that your provider cares and is doing what he or she should do to support the reputation of their brand?

8. How likely are you to complain if things don't go right? How likely are you to tell people when things go well?

9. Do you get periodic updates that engage you and motivate you to get to the next rung of the hierarchy?

10. How does service after the sale impact your willingness to use or buy additional products and services from a company or doctor?

Too many tech support stories end up ugly. Most in Sick Care do. Maybe someday, that thing the surgeon inserted in your chest will come with the same kind of tech support to keep things ticking.

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Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice
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