February 05, 2004
Tools of the Trade ...
Chemo Chronicles Article
As I looked over my notes, I came
across a comment to update "technology for the chronically ill and cancer patients." In a previous cancer
website <https://cancer.stonecottage.com/originalv1.html>, I had discussed some of the computer tools I
use for keeping track of critical health information, which lead to an article in Health Data Management
I currently use a Palm Tungsten T2 <https://www.palmone.com/us/products/handhelds/tungsten-t2/> for hand-held computing needs. When at home, I use Apple G4 PowerBooks, a 12-inch <https://www.apple.com/powerbook/index12.html> and a 15-inch <https://www.apple.com/powerbook/index15.html>. On the Palm, I have installed two critical applications, PatientKeeper <https://www.patientkeeper.com/products_personal.html> and Documents-to-Go <https://www.dataviz.com/> (see reviews below) which are at the heart of the essential tracking of health information.
There are two aspects of health information tracking that I see as critical. First, the essential data which includes test results, medication lists and upcoming appointments. Secondly, the keeping of radiological results, surgical reports, appointment and prescription receipts.
Essential Portable Data
For a chronically ill patient, including cancer patients, having immediate access to essential test results is very important. I maintain on my Palm a three year history of blood tests, tumor markers and other lab tests. In addition, I have a current list of medications in our "home-pharmacy" as well as my daily medications. Ideally, a single application for be great, but, that's not the case, so here's my process.
I use PatientKeeper to maintain "clinical" type of information, blood work results and medications being taken. For maintaining a list of all medications in our home-pharmacy, I use an Excel spreadsheet which is handled on my Palm via Documents-to-Go. For upcoming appointments, I use Life Balance for this.
To maintain the secondary type of information, I scan the original documents and convert them to Adobe Acrobat and store them on the PowerBooks. This information isn't always necessary to have when visiting the doctor, but it great to have for reference and for tax-records. When I have needed to go to the hospital, I have burned a CD of all the documents -- just in case we needed to reference a radiological report.
I started using PatientKeeper when it was version 1.0 and had been using it through version 2.33. I recently upgraded to version 3.11 and found the upgrade to be a major improvement in both interface design, reporting and functionality. Although PatientKeeper is designed for doctors, it can be easily adapted to patient use.
The first screen is the "medication" screen, very handy for recalling exactly what pills and dosage are being taken. As can be seen along the bottom, the interface is very clean and simply.
Screen 2 shows the blood panel results. This is the feature I use most in PatientKeeper. There have been many times I was able to find results faster than the doctor flipping through my medical file. In addition, the information can be viewed in a variety of ways: individual panel results; tabled; quick view.
PatientKeeper also has an excellent graphing features, as seen in this screen.
I can recommend PatientKeeper without any hesitation. For the price of $39, knowing you always have all the critical information at your fingertips is a small price to pay for that security. If you travel, having this information available is of critical importance. In addition, having all your history available can make your meetings with your doctor more valuable -- less time searching for the numbers -- more time talking about treatment and progress. PatientKeeper ease of use also makes it easy for caregivers to have access when the patient isn't able -- very important and reassuring to all concerned.
PatientKeeper is simply a must-have for the chronically ill patients and caregiver.
Document-to-Go is a very powerful suite of applications designed to share Microsoft Office documents with a Palm device. I keep my home pharmacy in an Excel spreadsheet, which is then converted by Documents-to-Go and place on my Palm. I can updated the spreadsheet on the Palm, which is automatically updated to my PowerBook at the next HotSync.
This is a very handy reference, especially with the cost of prescriptions today. The real power of Documents-to-Go is the ability to make any Office document portable and available anywhere you have your Palm.
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