The podiatrist was astonished when I showed him the x-rays of my foot. Incredulous, actually.

“A what? A vet took these films?” he asked.

I corrected him. “An equine veterinarian. In our garage. At our lake cabin. And yes, I was standing at the time. Weight baring. Just as you had instructed.” I was thorough.

“This will never do,” he retorted as his assistant appeared in the doorway with her arms crossed as if a boa constrictor had her in its embrace.

“You see, I like to put the pictures up here, big, on my light board so that I can examine them and point out things to you,” he admonished. “What do you mean they’re on this iPad?” he frowned, examining my tablet. “iPad?” The nurse scoffed, as she turned and left the doorway, her arms releasing in concert with the subtle shaking of her head.

My attempt to hack the healthcare system began with the neuroma in my right foot.  I’ve been walking on what feels like a marble at the base of my middle toes for about six months now. See that screw in the big toe? It was put their about 10 yeas ago, and is probably the culprit.

So I went to see this highly recommended foot doctor for relief. After a series of tests, he requested about $600 in x-rays. Now I’m no doc., but I was not sure what an x-ray would show when it comes to a soft tissue disorder.

A Vet, a Garage, and a Portable X-ray Unit

The weekend before I was to get my foot shot, I was at our family’s lake cabin for my younger brothers’ boy’s weekend. Dr. Howell, my youngest sibling, is the aforementioned equine vet, and he just happened to have his portable imaging equipment in his rig. Hey, if it’s good enough for a quarter million dollar Arabian, it’s good enough for me. So we began the procedure.

Presenting the Hack

If our venture into the 21st century wasn’t capturing the good doctor’s imagination, surely my well-used iPad touch screen that looked like a kid just got done playing with it after eating a chocolate donut provided a contradictory experience.

He took the device and began to fiddle with the image, opening his fingers like tweezers to expand the digital film. He would scrunch up his brow and point to a “fuzzy” part to explain something, only the iPad responded to his 60-something-year-old dexterity as a tap and we were all greeted with the prompt, “Copy or paste?”

To his credit, he hung with the examination punctuated by several “ughs” as the prompt appeared, which it did frequently.

“Now, Mr. Howell, how do we get to the next view?” “Oh, it’s right there, below your thumb,” I pointed out. His hand flinched like Pavlov’s dog the moment I said thumb and his opposable digit twitched – tap, prompt, “Ugh.” I chuckled. He gave me the, “I can’t work under these conditions” look, and so here I sit, waiting for the films of nine images just taken of both feet, (I think he added a couple extra shots for good measure) and the radiology report that we apparently forgot to assemble next to the workbench in our garage.

Corrective Shoes

Good effort, though. I’ve learned people are unfailing inflexible when it comes to medical procedures. They are also often resilient to innovation. So if you’re a marketer attempting to sell a new social media paradigm, a sustainability officer trying to advance a green initiative, or a communicator asking employees and customers to think and behave differently, keep hacking the system. Try different, weird things. You will often fail, but when you succeed, it can lead to great things.

I forgot to mention that my other brother hosting their 30th boy’s weekend at the family cabin is a ferrier. Might look into some corrective shoes.

– Sent from my iPad.