REMOVING THE ‘HEADPHONE JACK’ FROM PLASTIC SURGERY
Embracing the inevitable innovation of patient experiences before the mainstream aesthetic practices do
Samsung set the internet on fire recently when they conceded that their new Galaxy 10 would not include a 3.5mm headphone jack. This, of course, resulted in Samsung having to swallow some oversized slices of humble pie by ‘quietly’ removing their 2016 ads that famously mocked the Apple iPhone 7’s lack of a headphone jack.
It’s actually hard for me to believe that those Samsung ads are already 3 years old. At the time, I thought they were a brilliant piece of marketing that gave Android users a simple, clear rallying cry to combat the Apple ‘fanboys’. Even now, with the advantage of hindsight, I still think Samsung made the right decision running those ads at the time. Sure, at the moment Samsung is the laughingstock of the internet. But that, like everything else in today’s society, will be quickly replaced by the next big news story.
From the floppy disc to the CD/DVD to the ethernet port, Macs have continually shed older technologies and have driven consumers to adopt new technology much sooner than the mainstream may have preferred. So as the last holdout ditches the analog, outdated headphone port, Apple must be sitting back, saying to themselves “I told you so!”
ABANDONING OUTDATED TECHNOLOGY IN PLASTIC SURGERY
So, what can plastic surgeons learn from this lesson on disruption? What is the equivalent of the smartphone headphone jack in a plastic surgery workflow?
The answer: the patient check-in process.
Ambulatory practices continue to cling to the same Front Desk experience that has been used for decades:
a sectioned off wall/countertop that a patient walks up to
a large computer monitor obstructing the staff member from the patient
A clunky desktop computer/workstation that the staff member struggles to move their eyes away from when speaking with the patient
We have overwhelmingly evolved to a mobile, wireless society. Technology continues to produce impressive iterations in both hardware and software. Health IT, however, continues to reinforce the reputation as the slowest of the major industry categories to adopt new technology.
Plastic surgery practices rely on elective procedures for the highest profit-margin offerings. The clientele they are servicing is distinct from any other type of medical patient. Why, therefore, are plastic surgeons treating their high-spend patients the same as a dentist office? Why don’t plastic surgeons deploy a more retail-focused approach to something as simple as checking in a patient in order to increase engagement, satisfaction, and referrals?
It comes down to having the courage to adopt inevitable change before it has already become inevitable.
“It really comes down to one word: courage. The courage to move on to do something new that betters all of us.”
Phil Schiller, Marketing Chief | Apple
EARNING YOUR “I TOLD YOU SO” MOMENT
As SVP, Marketing for Symplast, I encounter many doctors and staff desperately resisting the notion of running their entire business (clinical and operational) solely from their mobile device. Their entire personal life is controlled by their smartphone no matter where they are. Yet the fear of foregoing the outdated computer/laptop to perform their workflows is too much to accept.
When Apple removed the headphone jack, mainstream media and customers overwhelmingly complained and derided them. Was an analog port for inconvenient headphones allowing Apple to progress towards a wireless experience? No.
That’s why it takes courage to disrupt and adopt best practices ahead of the mainstream curve. What’s the benefit of embracing this disruption?
Put simply, you have now guaranteed that your user experience will be superior to the majority of users. For plastic surgery practices, eliminating the large computer and blocked off countertop for a front desk iPad and inviting, open workspace immediately brands your practice as modern, cutting-edge, inclusive and unique.
YOUR IPAD IS YOUR NEW COMPUTER
If you take a step back and look at the big picture, your computer is on a path towards irrelevancy. Computers discourage the mobility and freedom that smartphones have thrived on. Rumors recently arose that Apple would be enabling their iPads to support a mouse; just like using a mouse on your computer. iPads can utilize various types of keyboards to improve the typing experience. Large computer monitors can even be plugged into iPads to mimic the “traditional” front desk configuration. Symplast’s proprietary, mobile-first EHR/PM enables plastic surgery practices to leverage their office iPads for their entire front-to-back tasks.
When a patient walks into the practice, the front desk coordinator can walk right up to the patients to greet them. They can drag and drop the appointment event on the iPad to trigger the series of check-in automation points regarding updating the status, triggering the waiting room TV to play targeted content, and proactively alerting the provider that their patient has arrived.
Forget about the minutiae of pros and cons users have been debating over keeping/removing the headphone jack. The big picture is accepting and embracing the mindset of looking forward to where something is headed, not where it’s been.
So the next time you’re debating whether to take the plunge and fully embrace a modern, mobile-first business, remember this quote from Apple executive Phil Schiller explaining why they removed the headphone port: “It really comes down to one word: courage. The courage to move on to do something new that betters all of us.”