I needed a jacket and I wanted a fresh look. So I went to the Market Street Bonobos in The Woodlands, TX. I had never been there before. I read that they were doing things differently.

The dance of sizing up a human being

In I go. I meet the general manager, Kristy. We pick out a casual, unconstructed blazer. I like it. But then Kristy grabs me one of their Jetsetters, a touch dressier. We look, pinch, and pull to see how it fits. We try the unconstructed jacket again and settle back on the Jetsetter.

Then we find a shirt. Trim cut. Head cocked we look again. It’s something of a dance because the human body is awkward and weird. But of the best fits I’ve ever experienced in a shirt.

I like the jacket and the shirt together. So I decide to take them.“Wrap ‘em up before I change my mind,” I joke. “Actually, we’ll mail them to you…,” Kristy says. Then we had a discussion about the Bonobos model (she actually went above and beyond and had my jacket overnighted to Austin for my event).

For the retail naive, Bonobos is a web operation (my own interpretation). They have Guideshops to fit and the internet for inventory, shipping, and subsequent transactions. If you like something in the Guideshop they ship it to you. Brilliant.

Health care can learn from the Bonobos model

It got me thinking about the Wild West of telemedicine. Virtual care is booming. “Board certified doctors”  willing to examine you through your monitor are a dime a dozen. But there are challenges with virtual care. It’s admittedly hard to look after someone when you’ve never measured them or seen them in your “clinical guideshop.”

I’m a dead-on believer in the future of virtual care. But we need to recognize the difference between understanding and reordering. There’s a time to look, pinch, pull and understand. And there’s a time for the follow-up transaction.

Different people and different problems call for different types of encounters and communication media. And in a chaotic medical marketplace we forget that.

I’ve always suggested that medicine’s biggest problems have been solved in retail.