IT management, MSP

Dispatches From Mexico City: MSPs As Family Doctors

Author: Ty Trumbull
Author: Ty Trumbull

I don’t feel well today.

Falling ill in a foreign country (reminder: I'm a Canadian living in Mexico City) can be intimidating. Heck, any out-of-the-ordinary situation can be daunting. Dealing with cultural differences, language barriers, and technological disparities can make something as simple as getting your computer serviced feel like you’re wading through a thick swamp. So when it comes to something as important as your health, you really need to pay attention.

A Needle In The Arm

Just for the record, I’m fine. It’s just a stomach bug. Something all too common given the tap water you’re advised not to drink and the prevalence of delicious street food. It’s a pretty common ailment, especially amongst the foreigners who haven’t had a lifetime to build up immunities.

The first few times I visited the doctor I was struck by the differences from my own country. There are plenty of free clinics operated by the pharmacies here. That usually means the doctors have an interest in prescribing patients lots of drugs, so antibiotics are handed out with abandon and you’ll walk away with a laundry list of other remedies. They also rely heavily on injections here. I had a needle prescribed for a sore foot once. Everyone uses them. It was weird at first and I still avoid them for the most part.

At any rate, it’s a far cry from the health care system I was used to in Canada. The first time I had to pay for a doctor I was floored (a funny realization given the larger cultural conversation going on these days, I guess). But for the most part, if you can afford it the health care system here is pretty good.

Cracking The Code

The hardest part has been the language barrier. Medical language is pretty specific, so it’s not something you practice daily. That makes it all the more important for the doctor to explain clearly what they’re doing and make sure they’re understood. Luckily, my experience here has been pretty good so far. Doctors are educated folk, so they often have a pretty good grasp on English, so when my Spanish skills are lacking we can bridge the gap.

What I’ve had less success at here is maintaining the health of my electronics. Getting my iPhone repaired has caused headaches in the past. Phone repair employees usually don’t need to speak English to do their jobs here. A friend of mine has been working for months to get their cell phone working properly here. These experiences have made me reluctant to take my computer – badly in need of some professional maintenance – to a repair shop. But because of that, I’ve learned the importance of backing up my devices.

The Communication Key

MSPs, computer repair workers, doctors… they’ve got a fair amount in common. Sure, the pay and areas of expertise are drastically different, but the level of communication necessary is on-par. Granted, there’s a lot more at stake for doctors, but you get my point: They need to make sure they’re understood.

If a client/patient doesn’t understand why they need something they may opt out of it, risking their health or the health of their device. Misunderstandings can cause a lot of problems.

There are many misunderstandings surrounding managed IT. A lot of companies believe their tech doesn’t require regular maintenance, so they should only pay when things break down. This belief will likely cost them more money in downtime than if they’d been paying for regular upkeep.

But a managed service provider is a lot like a family doctor. They get to know the systems, the interplay between devices, and the people working within the ecosystem. That means they can identify threats before they become a problem and work to prevent them.

But communicating why these measures are necessary is integral to the industry. It’s important for end-users to understand why they’re paying for managed services. Otherwise, they could walk in with a sore foot and end up with a needle in their arm.

Ty Trumbull, from his base in Mexico City, covers the entrepreneur’s journey and business continuity for ChannelE2E. Each Tuesday, he offers views about his new hometown.