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Drop-in help for mobile devices, laptops now available at medical school

The School of Medicine has launched the Tech Bar — its own version of the Apple Genius Bar — to service smartphones, tablets and laptops on a drop-in basis.

- By Rosanne Spector

At the Tech Bar in Lane Medical Library, service desk technician Michelle Dumalag-Perez installs updates on a laptop used by radiologist Michael Iv.
Norbert von der Groeben

The School of Medicine has quietly opened its own version of the Apple Genius Bar — but it’s not only for Apple products.

Unlike the technicians at an Apple Store, the medical school’s Tech Bar staff will tend to any smartphone, tablet or laptop you use for Stanford work, whether the maker is Apple, Microsoft, Samsung or none of the above. The free technical service, available to all students, staff and faculty at the School of Medicine, is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday on the lower level of Lane Medical Library.

Launched by the school’s Office of Information Resources & Technology last month, the Tech Bar, is holding its grand opening June 6, offering not only computer care but refreshments and giveaways.

No problems recruiting staff

IRT staff members have vied for the chance to be part of the seven-member computer Tech Bar team.

“We asked for volunteers from the help desk and field support staff, and we got an overwhelming response,” said Kathy Fisher, a member of the field support staff who is helping to publicize the program. “We’re planning on rotating every couple of months so everyone who wants to can work at the Tech Bar.”

As part of the preparation to offer the service, a former Apple Genius Bar technician, Phillip Lochbaum — who is now a desktop analyst with Stanford IRT — helped train the Tech Bar team in the tricks of the trade.

“No one knows how to fix every problem, but you have a team you can turn to,” said Lochbaum. One of the keys to a successful drop-in support desk is to know when to ask your teammates for help. The team is also building a database of solutions as they address each customer’s problem.

Customer focus, empathy

Another key is to have both customer focus and empathy for those you’re serving, said Lochbaum. To hone those skills, the Tech Bar staffers ran through hours of role-playing scenarios with IRT managers and other colleagues acting as faculty, students and staff having a wide range of problems with their laptops, smartphones or tablets.

“We selected scenarios that were very challenging for them, and they did a great job,” Lochbaum said.

In addition to the Tech Bar service for mobile devices and laptops, IRT will continue to offer IT support through the existing channels: calling 725-8000 or submitting a help ticket.

Stanford Medicine integrates research, medical education and health care at its three institutions - Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Health Care (formerly Stanford Hospital & Clinics), and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford. For more information, please visit the Office of Communication & Public Affairs site at

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