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    "When many cures are offered for a disease, it means the disease is not curable" -Anton Chekhov

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    Monday, July 11, 2005

    EMR Update: Last week Megan McCardle asked why do Americans take so little vacation? Many of her commenters said it was because they were self-employed and can't afford to take time off work. Too true! Vacations are a lot more expensive for the self-employed. The overhead costs keep chugging along when they're away, but the cash flow doesn't.

    For doctors, even those who aren't self-employed or solo, the paperwork keeps chugging along, too. (This is probably true of other jobs as well, but I suspect in most fields ones co-workers are more willing to take up the slack than in medicine.) The result is often piles of paperwork on return from vacation - sometimes so much paperwork that it leaves one wondering whether the vacation was worth it.

    But, with an electronic medical record, it doesn't have to be that way. Last month, I took my first vacation in two years - something I had put off the year before due to the fear of leaving my solo practice unattended. Thanks to the modern miracles of the internet and portable computers (not to mention cell phones), I was able to keep up with the work back home and still enjoy myself. Most important, I returned to a clean desk at the end of my vacation.

    Granted, I spent about an hour every night at an internet cafe doing work instead of being totally and completely away from the drudgery I had sought to escape, but it's better than no vacation at all. And I'd rather spend an hour a night doing paperwork than trying to cram in five extra hours of paperwork on top of my usual work load when I got back.

    Besides, the Opera House Internet Cafe in Bar Harbor, Maine, isn't such a bad place to spend an hour sipping coffee and working. It's very family friendly, with plenty of space for non-computer users to sit and read or talk, and the toy store down the street has strategically placed games and puzzles there to advertise to occupy children. My kids were actually begging me to take them with me each night - mostly because they were working on One Tough Puzzle. And the pastry chef makes a mean blueberry-cream cheese croissant.

    posted by Sydney on 7/11/2005 07:30:00 AM 0 comments


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