Health Tech

Consumerism, washing machines, big data & health care

“all your stuff works together” Really!


Those of you who remember my BestBuy washer & dryer installation saga from a couple of weeks back may want to gird your loins. Because the saga continues. And it has even more relevance for consumerism in health care. So catch up on the prequel and come back.

When you left the story your hero had just arranged for Best Buy to attempt delivery on Tuesday afternoon last week. I was in SF for the “can’t miss” Rock Health Summit. I was waiting at the apartment when I got about 4 calls from the same random number in 3 minutes but when I answered no one was there. I called back, no answer. Then I got a voicemail saying the delivery team was outside. I ran outside! No they weren’t! At that point I gave up and had lunch. But then for now the 5th time I called Best Buy and lined up a new delivery. I stressed about 10 times that the delivery team could NOT leave next time without seeing me. There may have been some shouting…..

Monday was the next available day for delivery and it was day that Best Buy was going to finally get it right. I got an email saying they’d be there at 1.30pm

I was across town in a meeting at 12.30 and noticed 4 missed calls from the same number. Being of a very suspicious nature, I called the number, and yes it’s the delivery team. They were outside the apartment, and they were 60 mins early!  Thankfully the delivery crew agreed to wait, and I went over to meet them. So at 6th time of asking, the crew was there, the equipment was there, I was there, and we all went into the apartment.

What could possibly go wrong!?

When the crew came inside to check out the installation site they told me that the dryer there now was electric but we had ordered a gas dryer which is what they had on the truck. Yes, apparently I had ordered the wrong type. But you’ll recall (or maybe you won’t) that the old dryer still worked.

I asked the crew to take the old ones away and put in just the new washer, or to put in the new washer and leave the old dryer. But they would only do it all together. So they left without taking anything out of the truck. And I was back to behind square one, as the order was wrong.

The crew told me they would call it in and meanwhile I called the 800 number. On that line, once I shouted at the machine a lot it got me to “appliances” and told me there was a 28 minute wait. I then called another number for appliances support which I found buried on their website. On that line the agent said that if I went to a Best Buy store and quoted the long code he gave me to them they could change the order which was still “in process” until the equipment was delivered back to the warehouse. And the store could switch out an electric dryer for the gas one. (He couldn’t tell me where a store was though!). While I was finishing that call, GeekSquad called me (I presume because the crew had called them?) I called that number back and a female agent (I note that only because every other agent had been male so far) told me that the appliance line guy was right. I couldn’t change the order online or on phone but I could in the store.

So I got a Lyft over to the nearest Best Buy store. There I found a very helpful sales guy, told him my story and gave him the code the agent had just given me. He says, “no, that code is to return an item. As they never came off the truck you never had them.”

OK so what do I do? He said, “you need a whole new order today, and tomorrow cancel the current one”. I say to him, “Why did I get a gas dryer when (way back when) I had given the salesperson on IM the exact product code of the dryer I already had.” Because (those of you with long memories will know) I was trying to buy a new washer to go under the old but still working dryer? After all, during that long first IM conversation, after it was established that there was no such thing as backwards compatibility in stackable washers and dryers, I asked the IM rep to get exact replacements for what I had bought in 2010, and that’s what he ordered and I signed off on.

“Well,” said store guy, “let’s look at your 2010 order.” We couldn’t find it under my name. So he looked under my wife’s name. This bit will make you health care data people wince.

In Sept 2010 my wife had ordered a washer and a gas dryer from Best Buy and received a confirmation email. She had sent that email to me.

That was the email I had found from 2010 which I used to extract the product code to ask the IM sales agent to see if he could find a washer to stack under that dryer. And when he couldn’t, that was the information he used to order me the whole new equivalent set.

When we looked at my wife’s account, it showed that four days later in 2010 the gas dryer had been cancelled, and a new order with an electric dryer had been put in. Of course I never got that email.

You’ve got it. The original 2010 was wrong. It was delivered with a gas dryer, couldn’t be installed, was cancelled, and changed. The electric dryer that is in the apartment now (and is still working fine) was delivered a few days later.

I had of course replicated the original order. This is a standard copy/paste error that happens hundreds of times in health care every day in every organization. And then it’s an inter-operability failure because I never received the corrected data that remained in my wife’s Best Buy account. I’m sure health care peeps can think of hundreds of examples of errors caused by persistence of the wrong data entered into the EMR!

I just did the consumer durable equivalent!

So I did a new order. And now I’m waiting with bated breath to see what shows up on Thursday!

Meanwhile Best Buy continue to talk up their health care ambitions!

Matthew Holt is the Founder and Publisher of THCB. His tenant’s clothes are still very dirty.

1 reply »

  1. So, the take home message is that things worked better before big data, when we bought our washers and dryers from a local Mom and Pop shop, who knew us and our family members, and kept everything in a nice paper file?

    Sounds good to me.