Complex Rehab Geniuses
Will this be the year you’re finally appreciated?
- By Laurie Watanabe
- Jan 01, 2010
Recently, my father got a new Apple iMac. I accompanied
him to the Apple store as his technical consultant because
my far-smarter sister wasn’t available.
One of the questions we had for the salesperson was
“What comes in the iMac box?” Short answer: the iMac, mouse
and keyboard. There are also a power cord, software/setup CDs,
the owner’s manual, two Apple logo decals and a chamois-like
black cloth, all charmingly packaged in cellophane. But that’s it.
When my dad said he wanted to transfer old files — mostly
music and a few photos — from his now-ancient iBook to his
new iMac, the Apple sales associate said they would happily do
that. All we had to do was join Apple’s One to One membership
program for $99. Not only would an Apple Genius transfer the
files, but my dad could also receive face-to-face tutoring on how to use his new iMac. His
membership fee would entitle him to talk to a Genius every day for a year, if he wanted to.
But the membership only covered a one-time file transfer, plus training. For repair work
past the iMac’s initial warranty, we could pay another fee to enroll in Applecare, basically an
extended-warranty program that would cover the iMac for three years.
Sold! My dad walked away with his iMac, his One to One membership and Applecare. I
set up the iMac at his home (i.e., I attached the power cord and plugged it in), and in no
time, the iMac was playing a Star Trek DVD for my mom.
Everyone lived happily ever after.
Then I got back to the office a few days later and heard, like bad deja vu, that another
mainstream media outlet — this time, AARP — had taken aim at the DME industry (see
page 8, MMBeat). The charges are frustratingly redundant and out of context…in essence,
“Why is Medicare paying double the MSRP for a wheelchair?”
NCART Executive Director Don Clayback explained, not for the first time, how the price
of a wheelchair is not merely the total cost of aluminum, electronics and battery. Don
explained that the cost must include everything from Medicare-mandated ATP involvement
to “Drop-everything, come-help-me!” service and maintenance, to client training, to potentially
infinite equipment adjustments as clients’ needs change.
I couldn’t help comparing this industry to my recent Apple experience. Generally
speaking, when consumers purchase a product, they get…the product. An iMac box
contains an iMac. If we want or need training beyond the owner’s manual, we pay. If we
need repair, we pay or we buy the extended warranty. Either way, it’s our responsibility to drag the iMac back to the store: Geniuses they may be, but they don’t make house calls.
Apple is a successful business, which implies plenty of consumers pay for the extras they
want. And Apple isn’t alone. Cars don’t include free driving lessons, ovens don’t come with
complimentary cooking lessons from Rachael Ray, and when doctors write prescriptions
during office visits, we pay separately for the drugs.
So why are rehab providers expected to throw in their expertise, labor and time for free?
Is this, at least partially, a marketing problem? Would we get further if we started
calling our ATPs “Complex Rehab Geniuses”? I’m all for it if it would finally get MM readers
the recognition they deserve.
This article originally appeared in the January 2010 issue of Mobility Management.
Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.