I wrote weekly editorials for a boutique industry newsletter for several years, anxious for both audience and income. I learned a lot about coming up with ideas for the weekly grind, trying to be simultaneously opinionated and entertaining in a few hundred words, and not sleeping much because I was working all the time. They’re fun to read as a look back at what was important then (and often still important now).
I wrote this piece in January 2010.
Marry in Haste, Repent at Leisure: Choose your EMR Soul Mate Carefully
By Mr. HIStalk
Too much Meaningful Use has led me to Meaningless Musing. Here’s where it took me: the same handful of wrong reasons that convince people to marry unwisely also convince them to buy EMRs that will make them unhappy.
Let’s start with lust. A good-looking partner often leads to hasty and ill-advised EMR marriages. Providers swoon over the slick, sexy sales demo of an EMR that seems cool and popular. They can’t wait to get legally hitched and embark on a lifetime of what they expect to be never-ending passion and soul-mating, flinging themselves at each other several times a day.
Once the vows are said and the papers signed, the romantically foggy lens they’ve been looking through clears shockingly. In the unforgiving harsh light of day, the sultry enigma turns into an endlessly argumentative pest, or maybe a hot mess looking for company in their downward slide. Your new EMR is Bobby Brown to your Whitney Houston.
The most in vogue reason to marry an EMR is cold, hard cash. Certified EMRs come with a taxpayer-funded dowry. Golddiggers rationalize that it’s just as easy to marry someone rich as it is someone poor. You are Anna Nicole-Smith, trying to work up lustful yearnings for a billionaire who is 63 years your senior. And like Anna, EMR users may not live long enough to enjoy the fruits of their connubial labors. Once your $44,000 has been spent, you still have to enter orders and pay larcenous tech support rates for hardware maintenance.
There’s also the shotgun wedding, although that’s a hopelessly dated concept now that society’s moral linkage between parenthood and marriage has been fully disengaged. Still, HITECH-seeking hospitals and practices are sure to push doctors and EMRs together despite their inherent incompatibilities, unwilling to take no for an answer when ARRA money is on the line.
My college roommate’s mom had wise advice, triggered by his ill-disguised lust for all things female and fearing he would sully the family home by marrying the pregnant, drug-using dropout that he found endlessly fascinating (she even had a tattoo, unheard of back then). His mom told him to picture a person who is horribly disfigured and wheelchair-bound after being burned in a fire, requiring his constant care and attention. Would he still be happy to spend the rest of his days with that person? If not, she isn’t the one. She wasn’t, apparently.
If the sweet young thing of an EMR that’s catching your eye becomes old, cranky, or unreliable, would it still be attractive once the money is gone?
Doctors should not be shamed into EMR marriage because of societal pressure (all the other doctors are getting hitched), age (being an EMR spinster isn’t all that shameful), or lust (you can get free milk without buying the cow by messing around with computers as a hobby instead of actually using them in practice, i.e., like informatics doctors do).
Ditto getting EMR betrothed because you want a big wedding (the vendor’s celebratory dinner) or to rebound from a bad previous marriage (the EMR you de-installed because the vendor was unresponsive).
Breakups are ugly. They involve a lot of ill will, money, and wasted time and energy. Like they say, marry in haste, repent at leisure.
The right reasons to get EMR nuptialized is that you’ve finally found that special lifetime companion with whom you want to spend every waking minute, the one you admire, that special person with whom you will grow together, and that soul mate with whom you will share intimate thoughts through good times and bad. For better or for worse, for rich or for poor, till death (or vendor insolvency) do you part.
I bet my roommate’s ever-practical mom would add one last item: just on the off-chance that you’ve chosen unwisely, get an ironclad pre-nup.