Pen and paper versus technology.

Early morning hours on the weekend often provide me with a little quiet time to get some work done. Usually my wife and kids are still asleep and the day hasn’t really started yet. Last Saturday morning was one of those days. As I got up from my work to get another cup of coffee I felt a little amused at the image in front of me. My days are spent working with various types of pharmacy technology, computers, automated storage devices, barcoding equipment, etc., but there on the table in front of me was a paper notepad and an ink pen.

Looking at the image you can see my PDA smart phone in the upper right, my iPod Touch (“Touch”) to the left, my laptop in the middle connected to the server at work via a wireless connection and a VPN, and to the right my trusty HP calculator and a paper notepad and pen. There are two things that I have always said a hospital pharmacist needs to do their job, a calculator and a pen. Well, those two things were sitting right there next to all my other technology.


As I stood there amused, I began to realize that it may be time for me to put my calculator in a drawer and go exclusively to the Touch. It’s too bad really. That calculator and I have been through a lot together, but the Touch has become my primary device for many things I do throughout the day. I use it to check email, update Twitter and Facebook, perform calculations, access drug information, etc. Several pharmacist friendly resources are available for the Touch including ePocrates, Lexicomp and MedCalc making it a valuable tool in a compact design.

Replacing the PDA smart phone and Touch with an iPhone has crossed my mind on several occasions, but I simply refuse to change wireless carriers for no other reason than to have an iPhone. Unfortunately, the iPhone is such a valuable tool that it may be too good to pass up. I continually argue with myself over my decision to stay with Verizon secondary to some strange sense of loyalty.

Are we seeing the end of the calculator and pen era in pharmacy? Probably not, but the reality is that the time is quickly approaching when calculator, pen and paper may be a thing of the past.  It’s just a thought.

3 thoughts on “Pen and paper versus technology.”

  1. Great post Jay.

    All my years working on Visio and I must admit my diagrams always start on paper and move to electronic form, if they’re needed for documentation. I have a nice little diagramming app on my iPod Touch for doing quick diagrams, called Instaviz, maybe it’s time to get serious and give it true shot at replacing pen and paper.

    This is one of your best posts to date, IMHO. I love the picture, it is “worth a thousand words”. (We used to use that line at Visio all the time.) :-)

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