There are perks to living in Silicon Valley beyond perfect weather year round. Being able to participate in ground-breaking, envelope-pushing research is one of them.

Invitation by Radio

In my car listening to Pandora, "Are you over 60, overweight and overstressed? Then call 1-800-StanfordResearch (<= not a real number) to participate in a study."

There are flyers on walls at coffee shop billboards inviting you to be holistic, understand what half this drug will do if you take it twice as often when you are in startup mode hoping to be the next unicorn.

This is old school social media at bakeries where you pay too much for cookies.

There are tear-offs with phone numbers that you can call to participate in research. It's most often Stanford on the other end.

Sometimes Stanford research will pay you to participate. You can always learn something about yourself in these studies ... if you can listen intently and read ... and IF, the biggest IF of all, the doctor follows through.

Doctors Lack Social Skills

Right. Smart as the Stanford doctors are, their people skills lack. Maybe that's why they use old school social techniques.

Twice I have gone through the rigmarole of being screened and invited to participate in a study on getting old and fat. The first time when the day approached the doctor failed to tell me where and when to be present.

The second time, a different doctor told me exactly where and when to be there. I showed up, but she didn't. Doesn't really inspire confidence, does it?

I braved the El Nino weather at 6:30 am to be well on time for my early morning appointment. I read pages and page and pages of consent forms. Then waited.

And waited. And waited.

Doctor Fail

Finally the receptionist spoke up, "The doctor is on her way."

"On her way from where? San Diego?" On her way doesn't mean anything if I don't know where she is coming from. Give me a landmark and I could predict when she'd be there.

And I waited. And waited.


"I have waited long enough," I said as I handed back the pile of consent forms I read ...


The doctor did finally call and offer an apology and an excuse ... while I was in my car on my way home.

Did anyone ever tell them that apologies are weakened if they are accompanied by excuses.

Stanford is a great hospital. Hands down one, if not the best. Imagine how good they could be if they just treated their research participants better.

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