Thursday, September 6, 2012


I was thoroughly enjoying my Labor Day weekend before I got the phone call. 

Catastrophic failure.

That's the term my office manager used to describe what had become of our EMR.  Prompted by the on call physician, she dragged herself out of bed early Sunday morning and came to the office to sort things out.  After a few hours of phone calls to the emergency support hot line, one thing became glaringly clear.  For little guys in small private practices like ours, there is no cavalry.  Apparently tech people take vacation too.  There would be no solution till Tuesday morning. 

Ahh...Tuesday morning.  The highly anticipated prize for taking a long holiday weekend was a barrage of phone calls, "emergencies", and unhappy patients.  On top of everything else, our new physician was starting that morning.

So I snuck into the office at seven am, and took stock of my surroundings.  I sat as still as possible in my chair, and basked in the silence that soon would evaporate with the unbolting of our front door.  Then I grabbed a pen and paper and dug in.

Unhindered by the computer usually tethered to my arm, I felt a strange sense of lightness walking from room to room.  I greeted each patient with a warm smile and sat down at the desk.  I forgot how much easier it is to make eye contact when your not staring at a computer screen.  Sure, I was at a disadvantage without all the information at my fingertips, but the freedom to concentrate on something other than the electronic paraphernalia that cluttered the exam room was quite liberating.

An hour into my schedule, I recognized a certain joy that I hadn't felt since back in 2003 when I started using EMR's.  It was the joy of concentrating every ounce of attention on my intended and preferred topic: the patient.

Needless to say, the problem ended up being as simple as a memory issue.  Before I knew it, the computers where whizzing and purring again.  With resignation, I abandoned my archaic writing utensils and palmed my computer.  I had a few hours of charting to re do. 

Kind of makes you wounder whether the computer glitch was a catastrophic failure at all. 

Or was it a glimpse, a taste, of what could have been.

1 comment:

InformaticsMD said...

Maybe you miss this:

More at: , a site I started in 1998 after having been a CMIO is a large medical system.