What can your medical practice learn from watching the show Iron Chef?

I enjoy watching Iron Chef America. I am amazed that the Food Channel can create a show about cooking that is exciting, competitive, informative, nail biting and fun all in a single show. Theoretically, a competitive cooking show sounds boring. What is fun and exciting about that?

But Iron Chef makes you root for a guy to pull out a lobster from the boiling water so he can plate it in time, while the other guy is running franticly chopping things up ’til the last minute all while the commentator gives a play, by play and insights as to the ingredients and technique of each chef.

For those that haven’t seen the show, it consist of two chef (one is the iron chef and the other is the challenger) trying to make several dishes in an hour with a secret ingredient that is revealed to them just before the competition.

Chefs are awarded a maximum of 20 points for their dishes. Ten points for taste, 5 points for appearance – or the presentation – of the food and 5 points for creativity in which the judges take into account how original the use the secret ingredient was used.

While watching the show the other day, I wondered how each of our medical small/business practices would fair if we were judge under the same premise. Before one can answer that, let’s put things into perspective.

How would the judges score you on taste?

Let’s say instead of getting 10 points for taste we would be judged on the sensation that results from the patient experiencing our practices. In other words, what flavor do we provide before, during and after an encounter with our practices’? An encounter can be anything from how one answers the phone, to how the nurse does the blood draw, to how one tries to collect an over due payment, to how well the doctor explains a diagnosis to a parent.

Let us take a look a few more things.

How about presentation?

Presentation is how we display our practice and ourselves. This can be the practices employee culture to how the office is decorated. Is the office clean? Are the magazines in the waiting room updated? Is the movie playing on the TV current? Is your staff dressed uniformly? Are the examining rooms well organized? Do things have its place? Is the staff courteous and professional?

How would the judges rank your medical office in terms of presentation? Hold that thought. Don’t answer just yet.

Creativity, how well does your office do with that?

Creativity is the special, unique little twist one puts on our service. The little surprise if you will. This is that little something that the parent or the patient wasn’t expecting. That nice little touch that made the visit go from an ordinary visit to a “that was a nice visit.”

How would we rank on creativity? Do you offer a unique, special little twist? Do your employees go that unexpected extra mile?

What about the secret ingredient?

The secret ingredient is of course the patient. ‘Cause you never know what you are going to get.

One more thing…

Before you answer those questions, let me insert one little caveat… you see, when the judges judge the challenger’s dishes on the show, the contenders generally get good feedback. But it isn’t until the judges taste the Iron Chef’s dishes, that they can appropriately judge the challenger’s plates.

Now, think about the nicest office you have ever seen. This is that office where the staff is friendly, the doctors are great, the environment is fun, people are courteous, the decoration is really cool and they always have a nice little unexpected surprise for not just the patient, but for parents too.

That office is the iron chef, the office you are going up against. And that awesome pediatric office just got awarded 19 out of 20 possible points.

Ok, now you can answer the questions

Now, think about how you, as a contender, would fair in taste/experience, presentation and creativity? How does your practice compare? How about in taste/experience… does your office provide a better experience?

Comparing the Iron Chef to a medical practice may be a long shot. But what I’m getting at here is that the service that we provide has to be delicious, presentable and unique. Only then will we be able to carve a unique spot in our niche and be awarded 20 points for our practices’.


  1. Brandon,

    Great post! My daughters and I enjoy watching Iron Chef America too, so I found this metaphorical comparison very thought-provoking. My husband and I founded a medical practice a couple of years ago. Although not in pediatrics, I always find your posts very applicable. Thank you.