Wednesdays are my long day in the clinic. Imagine my disappointment when upon arriving at the office today I found out the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) was malfunctioning. It wasn’t completely inoperative mind you, but a software glitch prevented our patients from showing up in the daily schedule. As a result, we could not enter vitals, order labs or complete our clinic notes during our patient visits. The malfunction lasted all day, requiring us to engage in our workaround procedures. These complications obviously served as a source of significant frustration for the doctors and support staff, and the electronic complications occur with a surprising degree of frequency. Our IT support staff is excellent, and I know that they did their absolute best to get our systems back on line and fully functional by the end of the day.
In medicine, just like all other aspects of life, unforeseen setbacks are common and inevitable. I realized that after hearing that my workflow would be permanently altered for the rest of the day, I was faced with a choice: I could either stomp off angry and put off by the situation, or go with the flow and embrace taking on the day in a new format. I chose the latter, which did wonders for my well-being. For the entire day, I concentrated on speaking with my patients and getting their full stories, and completing the computer tasks which were possible, and patiently putting off things that had to wait until later. I even found myself relegated to using old-fashioned dictation as our voice recognition software was not compatible either with the nonloading notes.
Have you had unique experiences with an EMR that occasionally malfunctions? How do you recover from unforeseen circumstances which threaten to derail the normal workflow of your clinic hours?