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Family Practice Physician Has Myriad Uses For His 200LX

Family Practice Physician Has Myriad Uses For His 200LX

This MD uses his palmtop for many different things, including e-mail, appointments, spreadsheets, databases, macros, Solver equations, PhoneBook entries, and games.

By Dr. Steve Carder

In medical school, I carried a small notebook of pearls. These were collected bits of information summarized for easy reference. I also carried several pocket-size reference books with information about various diseases and medications. I kept track of my schedule with a Casio pocket organizer. All of this, plus equipment like my stethoscope and penlight, made my lab coat very heavy. After graduation, I started my residency training in Family Practice. I also started looking for a better way to organize my information. When a friend purchased a 95LX, I quickly saw that it would be an excellent way to combine all of my needs into one machine.

I started with a 1 MB 95LX five years ago and have upgraded several times. Last fall I purchased my most recent palmtop, a double speed 8 MB like-new 200LX from Thaddeus computing.

I would like to say my day starts with my palmtop waking me up, but my 5-year-old son takes care of that job each morning. As I am getting ready, my 200LX connects to CompuServe using acCIS 4.0 via my 14.4 PCMCIA modem. This program automatically gets my e-mail, as well as new message subject headings from the forums I frequent. I then take a moment before breakfast to select the message subjects I want to read. acCIS then reconnects and retrieves those messages while I eat. Whenever I have a few moments free during the day, I can read e-mail and forum messages and type my replies. All of my replies are sent when acCIS connects the next morning. I have found this to be a wonderful way to pass time while waiting in line, on hold, etc.

At the office, I have the ApptBook set to beep at 8:45 am if I have anything special I need to do that day. This is right before I normally start to see patients, so I am usually at my desk doing paperwork. I often forget to look at my schedule at the beginning of the day, so a beep reminds me to look at what I have planned. I don't keep regular patient appointments in my palmtop, since I am not the one who schedules them. I do use my 200LX to keep track of meetings and any special patient appointments that require some preparation on my part (like minor surgeries). I also track which nights my wife will be working, so I know when I will have to be home to watch our children.

Once I start seeing patients, I load a Lotus spreadsheet that stores and calculates medication doses. It acts as a database that allows me to pull out the information on the drug I want. Then I can enter the patients weight and 1-2-3 will calculate the appropriate dose. I use Lotus macros to automate this process. I designed this spreadsheet a few years ago on my 100LX. I have added new medications regularly since then. Lotus will let you create a database of information with each record stored in one row and each field in a column. This spreadsheet looks something like:

- ---------------

Name1 | pill size | dose | Notes

---------------- ---------------

Name2 | pill size | dose | Notes

----------------I use the database query function to pull out the record that contains the drug name I enter. For example, I can enter the drug name amoxicillin and it would pull out the record of information for amoxicillin.

Once I have the information pulled out, I type the patients weight into a specific location and the spreadsheet will calculate the correct dose for that weight and specified drug. This spreadsheet is available to download as part of a collection of palmtop medical information I have created. The file is MEDSTUFF.EXE.

Even if you don't need to calculate drug doses, it may stimulate some ideas for your own spreadsheets. Part of my practice includes caring for pregnant women and delivering their babies. Whenever I see one of my pregnant patients in the office, I open my database (CTRL)+) PHONE) that tracks them. I used the built-in database program to design a custom database with the information I need to track. The database fills three pages (see Screens 1, 2, and 3), so I have to press PG DN (Fn)+(DownArrow) to see all of it.

Screen 1.

Screen 2.

Screen 3.

I check for any ongoing problems that I need to address during the current visit. At the end of the visit, I update her entry with any new information. I often get calls about one of my pregnant patients at odd hours. When this happens, I can pull out my 200LX and have up-to-date information at my fingertips. After delivery, I use the databases Extract feature to copy that woman's entry to a temporary database. Then I merge the entry from the temporary database into a separate database so it is still available, but doesn't clutter up my current information. I use a System Macro to automate this. It looks like:

{Appt}{F9}{F5}{F4}{Right}{Right}{F4}||9{F3}{Enter}{Alt+D}{ Date}+{F10}{Menu}q {More}{Menu}AL{More}n

The macro should be one long line with no spaces. The temporary database is named TEMP.GDB. Since it is the only database that begins with the letter T, the macro can select it by TABing to the list of files and typing t. System Macros are excellent for automating tasks you do frequently with any of the built-in programs. It is easy to record your keystrokes as you do the task once, then play back the same keystrokes whenever you need to do it again.

I also use the Solver function of Calc to keep formulas I use regularly. I only have to enter the formula once. Then, whenever I need to use it, I just open Calc and input the variables I have. Solver will calculate the remaining variable for me. Some of my equations use the data calculation functions. For example, the equation below (see, also, Screen 4) calculates how many weeks into her pregnancy a woman is given her due date:

Screen 4.

CDATE= DATE(EDC,(0-(40-Weeks)*7))

The variables are EDC (pregnancy due date) and Weeks (the number of weeks along in the pregnancy). The CDATE function tells Solver to insert the current date (from the system clock). The DATE(X,Y) function finds the date that is Y days before or after X, where X is a date.

I use the PhoneBook to keep both personal addresses as well as pharmacy phone numbers. I make a point of entering any phone number I have to look up into the palmtop so I wont have to go search for it again later. I keep private information in a separate NoteTaker file with a password. This had seemed secure enough to keep my credit card numbers, etc., safe. Recently, however, a program called HPCrack has appeared that can extract the password from PhoneBook, Database, and NoteTaker files. I have moved my sensitive information to Lotus 1-2-3, since its password feature is completely different (and cant be cracked by the HPCrack program).

Once I return home in the evening, I can use my palmtop for fun. My favorite game is a DOS version of the 4,000-year-old oriental strategy game Go. It is played on a board with a grid of 19 lines each way. Players take turns placing pieces on the board and try to surround the most territory. I have an older version of the commercial program (from ISHI Press), so I don't know if the current version will still run on the palmtop.

My current after hours project involves converting a medical reference book called The 5 Minute Clinical Consultant to HTML format. (5MCCDEMO.ZIP is a limited demo of the reference book.) HTML is the language of Web pages. It allows links that let you jump from one place to another. Also, any computer that can run a Web browser can read HTML files. For 200LXs, there is HV.EXE a freeware HTML reader that is part of a commercial palmtop Web browser WWW/LX.

The reference book contains short reviews of several hundred medical conditions. Each review is two pages long and is arranged in a standard format. The CD ROM version of the book let me save each review as a Rich Text Format file (*.RTF). I converted the Rich Text Format to a basic HTML file. I then scanned the index of the book, since the CD had no provision for saving the index as a file. Finally, I used System Macros to automate fixing up each of the over 600 basic HTML files.

I have the first macro do part of the process, then link to the next one (a System Macro can run another System Macro. This is called linking. To link, or chain a macro, press the F7 (Chain) key when editing the Contents field of a macro.) Each of the ten Macros links to the next in series, then the last one links back to the first. This way, the series repeats as an endless loop. I just wait until it does the last file, then hit (CTRL)+(Break). I plan to offer the HTML files for sale to anyone who already has a copy of the book. The whole collection is about 6 MB .

Each evening, I have an appointment that runs a System Macro. To do this, put two vertical bars (Shift)+(Backslash) then the number of the macro in the description field of the appointment. So, if ||9 is on the description field of an appointment, the macro normally accessed by pressing (Fn)+(F9) would be run when the appointment goes off. This macro copies the appointment to the next night, then opens (&) (MORE) and runs a batch file called NIGHT.BAT.

This batch file runs two programs. The first program, called RAR (a data compression program similar to PKZIP) compresses and backs up my internal C: drive to my Flashcard. The second program (BCC.EXE ) charges my NiMH batteries if they need it. I also backup both the internal C: drive and the Flashcard to my desktop using a different batch file and ZIP.COM .

I have had accidents causing data loss of both the C: drive and the Flashcard in the past, so I can personally vouch for the importance of regular backups.

The HP 200LX has allowed me to compile all of the information I use to carry around in my lab coat into one easy-to-use machine.

Using My 32 MB Upgraded HP 200LX

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