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Why is iPhone perfect for doctors

I purchased my iPhone about six months ago and it has in many ways changed my life for the better. This is especially true regarding my work as a medical doctor. I believe that iPhone is a perfect gadget and that it can improve any physician’s performance. That is way I decided to present some of many useful ways you can utilize iPhone in your practice.

Access your Electronic Medical Record

Life Record is a company which produces Life Record Electronic Medical Record (EMR) software. What is interesting about it is that you can access your records form an iPhone. You can also make updates and even write prescriptions.

View medical images

To view your radiology images remotely you can use the Mobile MIM iPhone Application. This application provides multi-planar reconstruction of data sets from modalities including CT, PET, MRI and SPECT, as well as multi-modality image fusion. Using the multi-touch interface, users can change image sets and planes; adjust zoom, fusion blending, and window/level.

Calculate, compute, add, subtract, multiply, divide

Medical Calculator gives quick access to calculations that are too hard to memorize or perform in your head. There are around 50 clinical calculations that you can do with it right now, and more are coming. To not get lost, favorite those you use often.

Medical calculator

Access drug information

Epocrates Rx software for iPhone puts continually updated peer-reviewed drug information at your fingertips. This can improve patient care and safety, save time, reduce administrative burden and enable confident clinical decisions.

Take notes

There are many powerful note taking apps for iPhone out there. But let me just present the two most interesting, Evernote and Jott.

Evernote allows you to take text, snapshot, saved photo and voice notes. When you take for example a voice note, you can add a title to it, some description and tags. The interesting thing happens after you have taken your notes. They synchronize with your online account and what this means is that you can access them from anywhere. From your computer using a desktop application or from any other computer in the World with an Internet connection via the web interface. Everything is always synchronized across all of your devices. One cool thing that Evernote can do is transcribe images, meaning that it is capable to find text inside an image and make it searchable. It doesn’t yet transcribe your voice notes to text, but I believe this feature will be coming in the near future.

There are some advices on how to use Evernote on The Efficient MD blog, but I am sure you can think of many more ways to utilize this app. For example you could take snapshots of your patient’s injuries in the ER or record interviews with your patients.

Well, this other application, Jott is capable of doing what Evernote still can’t. It can capture your to-dos and transcribe your voice into text and place the resulting notes in your lists.

If you like Evernote, but desperately need for your voice notes to be transcribed to text, don’t worry. There is this great hack from Lifehacker that can help you.

Stay on top of your field

As a modern evidence based medicine physician you have to read and follow new developments in your field. Often you find interesting articles on the Internet, but don’t have time to read them. My advice is to save them for latter and read them on your iPhone during your breaks, when you are on call and have some free time or while waiting in some line. Perfect little app that can help you do just that is Instapaper and it is one of my favorite iPhone app ever. When you find something on your computer that you want to read later, simply click Read latter bookmark. Then when you have time, just open Instapaper app on your iPhone and read those articles. You would think that the iPhone’s screen is too small to read, but you would be wrong. It’s high resolution screen and zoom capabilities make reading enjoyable.

Of course you can read whole books on the iPhone too. Use Stanza to transfer and read all your important medical e-books.

Apart from reading, you can do a little bit of watching and listening, to thousands of podcasts in the medicine category. A podcast is a series of audio or video digital-media files which is distributed over the Internet and can be transfered to your iPhone. Listen and watch podcast from The Lancet, The New England Journal of Medicine and many others while you, let say, travel to work.
Podcast directory

Enhance your scientific research

You can use your iPhone to find scientific literature. Download PubSearch and search among the millions of research papers indexed in PubMed. This app has a simple user interface with fast access to the PubMed database, and it lets you concentrate on finding the research articles you need without getting in your way. PubSearch Plus is on the way and it will allow you to not only read abstracts, but full-text articles too.

Convert your iPhone into a wireless external disk, one with a lot of memory. This way you can carry around all the important documents for your undergoing scientific project. Come to a meeting with your colleagues and have all your excel and powerpoint files with you. Also bring some scientific articles in pdf, or other format, related to your research. All these files can easily be opened on your iPhone or access from any PC or Mac in the room. This is all done using AirSharing for iPhone.

Play games

You too deserve to have fun from time to time. There are numerous great games for iPhone and if nothing these can help you relax during an intensive and difficult shift. There have been some results published about video games and their ability to enhance surgeons’ performance. So before your next surgery why not try playing a game like Labyrinth to get you all warmed up and focused.

As you can see there are numerous useful ways you can utilize iPhone as a medical professional. This is not all of course, there are many other interesting apps coming up everyday and I did not mention the obvious things like reading email, surfing the web and contacting people via sms or IM services. I am looking forward to new medical apps that might appear in the future. Also, wouldn’t it be cool if somebody introduced some iPhone medical accessories. I would like to see some pulse oximeter sensors or ECG cables for iPhone. They could plugin-in to it’s 30-pin dock connector to input data which, I am sure, due to it’s processing power iPhone would not have a problem to analyze. Are we getting closer to those great all in one medical devices from Star Trek? 🙂
Star Trek

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Wii for surgeons

Q&A with Dr. Mark Smith and a news report regarding use of Nintendo Wii to train surgeons from News 8 Austin.

Mark Smith, M.D., a gynecological surgeon at Banner Good Samaritan Hospital in Phoenix, explains how the Nintendo Wii is helping train new surgeons.

Q: Part of your job is to train residents learning to be surgeons?

Smith: Yes. I have been in teaching for over 20 years and one of my responsibilities is training residents in surgery.

Q: When you started your job did you ever think you would be using video games to train?

Smith: I have never thought I’d be in video games to this extent. We have surgical simulators in virtual reality, but this has taken it to a whole new level, which is exciting.

Q: What have you found that the Nintendo Wii can do for practicing surgeons and for people learning how to perform surgery?

Smith: One of the problems we’ve had over the years is we had no method to teach surgeons surgical skills without going into surgery. We now have simulators that help them develop those skills. The problem is they are incredibly expensive — like a flight simulator for a pilot. This gives us a much less costly way to train these fine motor skills that the surgeons employ during surgery.

Q: Can a video game really help somebody improve as a surgeon?

Smith: We used cyber gloves which computerize hand movements of surgeons and we put those on surgeons. We have data on that. We put them on people playing the Wii. There is a very, very high correlation between the two and this is documented statistically.

Q: What did you find happens to the skills of people when they train this way as opposed to those who don’t train this way?

Smith: They develop an increased efficiency, less errors, more fluid movements … they’re just better.

Q: What has been the traditional method of training?

Smith: Up until the last ten years, they learned in actual surgery … what’s called the apprentice method — standing beside an expert surgeon, watching and helping to do it.

Q: Does this generation of doctors, having grown up playing video games, tend to be better at this training?

Smith: Actually, they tend to be better, but that’s not all of it. We can expand the skills that they have developed growing up. They certainly jump in a lot quicker. There is less training to start. For instance, in laparoscopy, which has differences than the more traditional type surgery, but it’s really as much an innate ability as it is for what they’ve grown up with.

Q: Have you adapted the Wii to use actual surgical tools?

Smith: We are using the actual tools. What some people don’t realize is there are very basic skills we have to teach. If you teach someone to drive a car, you first have to teach them how to put the gas down … put the break down. You have to learn all these skills before you can drive a car.

Q: What kind of skills are they learning by doing this?

Smith: Very fine motor skills … very precise, exact movements that surgeons need to know and have the ability to do. This teaches them those fine movements — fine motor skills — so that they are very proficient in those types of skills when they go into surgery.

Q: What did your study on this new training technique show?

Smith: Our initial pilot study … we showed a 50 percent improvement in their surgical skill level just by playing on the Wii.

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Operation room manual

Vodi? za operacijsku saluToday I published a recently finished medical manual on my website. I wrote it in collaboration with colleagues from the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics at the University Hospital Rijeka. It is aimed at all health workers who are for the first time starting to working in an operating room and encountering aseptic work techniques. For now only Croatian language version is available, but the one in English will be appearing soon. Anyway, even if you do not speak Croatian be sure to take a look because the material is full of visual data.

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HOPKINS

On June 26th, ABC News started airing its six-part series called “Hopkins” which takes an intimate look at the men and women who work at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Each episode follows a few characters, both healthcare workers and patients, and their stories. The series is greatly produced and is very inspiring to watch. So far, two episodes came out and here are their summaries:

Episode 1

Twenty-one years ago Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinjosa climbed a 20-foot border fence so he could join other illegal immigrants picking fruit in the lush valleys of central California. Today he is one of the nation’s elite brain surgeons. He tells ABC News about his remarkable journey as viewers watch him try to save a man’s life.

Karen Boyle is among the new generation of surgeons. She is the first female attending in urology at Hopkins, and determined to maintain a balance between her family and her job. But what sets her apart from other surgeons is the candid counseling about sexual health and intimacy she offers to her patients.

Brian Bethea has made it to the top of one of the most difficult residencies in medicine, cardiothoracic surgery. After nine years of apprenticeship he is ready to join the ranks of the nation’s most illustrious heart and lung surgeons. But the demands of residency have left his family life in shambles. Repairing a ruptured aorta may be easier than saving his marriage.

Episode 2

Brenda Thompson is dying from an obscure and always fatal lung disease. After two failed marriages, her third husband seems to be the man of her dreams. But time is running out. Only a lung transplant can save her. And a new lung may not become available in time. When a donor does become available in New England, there is jubilation. But events take an ominous turn when the donor lungs turn out to be damaged.

Brian Bethea, the promising cardiothoracic surgeon with marital problems, has been sent to harvest the new lungs that turn out to be damaged. Nothing seems to be going right for him. When Brian returns home, he must explain to his daughters that he and their mother are separating and he has found his own apartment.

Mustapha Saheed is in his third year of emergency medicine. At six foot, seven inches tall, this self-described “big black man” cuts a striking figure as he dashes through the ER. Despite the advice of a colleague to not marry the “girlfriend who got you through residency,” Saheed makes plans for the altar.

You can watch Hopkins on ABC News website

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