The electronic Swiss army knife; A cheap shot at gun owners?
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Kudos to you and your staff for keeping the medical profession current on technologic advances in handheld computers and personal digital assistants ["Put a computer in your pocket and change your life," Oct. 23]. As a technophile who uses a Palm, I can suggest topics you didn't address that might be grist for future articles:
You list only PatientKeeper under patient management databases, but other programs are easier to use. My colleagues and I use HanDBase, a customizable database manager, which interchanges information with Microsoft Excel or Access. With HanDBase, I track consults, patients, and proceduresnot to mention a fine wine list.
It's easy to import or export text, Word, or HTML files to MegaDoc, a Palm word processor, which allows me to research on the go.
The single most useful program for nonwireless users is AvantGo, a Web-content program that enables them to view selected Internet pages on a handheld computer. The preformatted content features news and stocks, but for me, AvantGo's true power lies in updating conference schedules, viewing medical journals' contents, and tracking other rapidly changing information.
Doctors could benefit from customizing medical practice Web sites or local area networks, which would enable them to access existing electronic medical data and scheduling information. They could accomplish all of this without specific medical software.
Another article on personal digital assistants might address the synchronization of checkbook and savings transactions with financial programs, such as Quicken or Microsoft Money.
My Palm Vx is now the only thing in my pocket. Thanks for encouraging nonusers.
Michael Owens, MD
University of Washington
If our muckety-mucks are trying to decide whether our group needs a complete electronic medical record system, why should I care about personal digital assistants? Won't any good EMR system write prescriptions, check interactions, and look up Bora Bora fever in nanoseconds? Granted, PDAs are more portable and may be more user-friendly, but some EMR systems can do all those thingsand keep a complete medical chart right in front of me in the exam room!
Perhaps physicians could simply download on to their PDAs only a few charts at a time. Using PDAs for this purpose is an intermediate step between the paper chart and the full electronic chart. Instead of replacing a PDA with an EMR, a PDA's utility alongside an EMR might become obvious.
Gil C. Foster, MD
Little Rock, ARgilfos@aristotle.net
I'm disappointed with the illustration of a gun that you chose for the article, "How many doctors own guns?" [Oct. 9]. Someone must have thought that an assault rifle would be appropriate, even though they're not mentioned in the text or tables. The physician gun owners who read your magazine probably wouldn't agree with your choice.
What's more, "assault rifle" is a term favored by those who oppose the Second Amendment and the right of citizens to own and use guns for legitimate purposes.
Your silly, cartoon-like gun adds nothing to the article. The picture demonstrates that one of the goals of the anti-gun lobby is succeeding: to make people who know nothing about guns think only in terms of "bad" guns.
Spencer Kulick, MDSan Luis Obispo, CA
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Suzanne Duke. Letters to the Editors. Medical Economics 2001;2:8.