Saturday morning coffee [October 10 2015]

“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” ― George Bernard Shaw …you people know who you are.

So much happens each and every week, and it’s hard to keep up sometimes. Here are some of the tabs that are open in my browser this morning along with some random thoughts…


As predicted, The Martian was #1 at the box office last weekend, pulling in a just over $54 million in its opening weekend. It’s a good movie. Highly recommended. I expect The Martian to hold the #1 spot for a bit longer. Who’s going to challenge it, Pan?

Speaking of movies, my younger brother came up to Fresno last Sunday and took me to see Everest. The movie recreates one of the worst climbing disasters in history. I don’t usually go in for movies like that, but Everest was really quite good. Another film I would recommend.

I’ve always been a drip coffee guy, probably because that’s how I got started drinking coffee. I’ve tried various methods – pour overs, coffee press, running by Dutch Brothers twice a day – but I always come back to drip. Recently my tried and true Mr. Coffee Coffeemaker took a turn for the worst and I had to replace it. Instead of simply getting another Mr. Coffee, I wanted to try something different. I did a little online research and finally decided on a Bonavita 8-Cup Original Coffee Brewer. While the Bonavita is still makes coffee via “drip”, the water comes down onto the grounds in a sort of showerhead fashion, and the “pot” is a carafe that keeps the coffee warm for several hours. There is no warmer under the carafe. It works very well. I’m quite satisfied with the coffee it brews. The only thing that’s a bit of a bummer is that you can’t pull the carafe out before it’s finished brewing when you just can’t wait five minutes for it to finish. I used to grab the carafe on my old Mr. Coffee as soon as I had enough black gold to warrant a cup. The price we pay for good coffee.

Microsoft had an epic event this week in New York. The company introduced some of the most exciting new products that I’ve seen in years. The company took their already class-leading line of Surface machines and introduced the new and improved Surface Pro 4. The Surface Pro 4 has updated internals, a slightly larger display, improved pen technology with a better inking experience, and a better detachable keyboard. And the best thing of all is that you can custom configure the device to your liking at the Microsoft Surface site. But that’s not all. Microsoft also introduced what I think is the most innovative piece of hardware that’s come along in a while, the Surface Book. The Surface Book offers a crazy new design, making it both a complete laptop and a full-fledged tablet. It also gives users the ability to configure the Surface Book to rival any 13-inch high-end laptop on the market. It’s what a modern ultrabook-tablet should be. Surface Book is quite literally my idea of the perfect machine torn from my brain and turned into reality. It’s the most excited I think I’ve ever been for a piece of new consumer technology. It’s beautiful, and I must have one.

Here’s an interesting website: “Easy PC Picker exists to simplify the process of buying a new computer. We ask you three simple questions (price, operating system, and features) and then provide a recommendation hand-picked by our staff of experts.” I played with it a little bit. It’s not perfect, but it kicks out some solid choices for anyone looking for a new machine.

Who would have thought that Velcro could be dangerous? I’ve managed to get a few nicks and cuts on my hands from unstrapping and re-strapping my leg brace several hundred times over the past few weeks. I’m theorizing that the little hooks on one side of the Velcro strap are able to grab tiny pieces of skin that are loose. And when they grab hold, they don’t let go.

Speaking of Velcro, it “is the brainchild of Georges de Mestral, a Swiss engineer who, in 1941 went for a walk in the woods and wondered if the burrs that clung to his trousers — and dog — could be turned into something useful. After nearly eight years of research (apparently it’s not so easy to make a synthetic burr), de Mestral successfully reproduced the natural attachment with two strips of fabric, one with thousands of tiny hooks and another with thousands of tiny loops. He named his invention Velcro, a combination of the words “velvet” and “crochet,” and formally patented it in 1955. Though the first Velcro was made out of cotton, de Mestral soon discovered that nylon worked best because it didn’t wear with use.” And the moral of the story? Take time to go for a walk in the woods. (source: Time)

Have I ever told you how awesome 3D printing is? There’s a lab at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) –  <cough>… my alma mater – that’s using living cells as the substrate to 3D print human tissue. “Zev Gartner, PhD, has focused on the next best thing: His lab is building fully functioning 3-D human tissue, cell by cell. It sounds straight out of a Frankenstein novel, but Gartner is working to grow the milk-producing tissues of the human breast to create a living, working model of the human mammary gland that grows, ages and responds to hormone signals just like the real thing. This means growing the ducts, arteries and connective tissue in the same environment.” Crazy.

How long before we all have 3D printers in our houses to print everything from our breakfast cereal to a new spray nozzle for our hose? It’s not as far off as one would think. It could even happen before I decide to checkout for good.

This week the FDA told ASHP that it has “not cleared or approved any syringes for stand-alone use as ‘closed container systems.’” Oh boy, that’s a biggie. You can read my initial thoughts about the announcement here, but I think it’s going to cause some problems for pharmacies.

Variety: “Consumers are now using mobile phones more often to search Google than desktop PCs…“We are getting over 100 billion searches every month,” Singhal said. Mobile overtook the desktop as the number one source of traffic this summer, he said.” – I talked about this a few years ago during a presentation I gave at a SoCal HIMSS Meeting. Those things in your pocket aren’t phones, they’re computers. My thought is that there has to be a way for pharmacy to leverage that knowledge to improve patient care. Really hasn’t happened yet.

You really should stop whining about your commute. Take a look at what happens when people return from vacation in China. Dude, that’s some traffic right there.

And just like that the Cardinals broke my heart. I said last week that the Rams defense was good, and they gave Palmer fits all afternoon. The Cardinals play the Lions tomorrow. I think it’s a winnable game, but the Lions have nothing to lose, which makes them dangerous. Expect the Cardinals secondary to have their hands full with the Lions long-ball.

Ugh, the Bruins took one in the shorts last Saturday night. Hats off to Arizona State, they punched UCLA in the throat. No game for the boys in baby blue this weekend. Good thing, as they have Stanford up next on the schedule. They’ve had trouble with the Stanford running attack and defense over the past few years. Fingers crossed.

Have a great weekend everyone.

My ASHP Midyear 2014 technology loadout

I’m always tinkering with my travel bag to find just the right mix of computer technology and carrying convenience.

Most recently I’ve been carrying a Yoga 2 Pro, an Asus VivoTab 8, and a Samsung Galaxy S5. The Yoga 2 Pro serves as my primary machine for pretty much everything. The VivoTab 8 is an 8-inch Windows 8 tablet with Wacom digitizer, i.e. pen support. I use it to take notes, mark up PDFs, etc. I find that it’s just “okay”. The 8-inch screen is too small at times, and lately the digitizer has been finicky; a known issue with this tablet. The S5 goes everywhere I do. I use it for the obvious things – calls, text messages, emails, etc – as well as to play games, listen to music, take photos, check my social media feeds, and so on.

I’m changing things up a little this trip. My loadout for ASHP Midyear will include:

  • Yoga 2 Pro – This is my primary workhorse. It’s a great machine and meets almost all my computing needs. I will be using it to compose blog posts and manage photos and videos that I capture while walking around the exhibit hall.
  • Surface Pro 3 – New this year, the SP3 will likely go with me everywhere I go while I’m at Midyear. It’s small and light enough that I can carry it around, it offers great pen support for note taking, and still has plenty of horsepower for when I need more than a tablet. I thought about leaving the Y2P at home and taking only the SP3, but I’ve never traveled without a “real laptop”. I’ll see how things go during Midyear. If things work out then I’ll leave the Y2P at home next time. Can the SP3 really replace my laptop? I don’t know, let’s find out.
  • Galaxy S5 – As mentioned above, this is my primary mobile device. I’ll be using it to handle my calendar, make calls, send texts, read and respond to emails, etc. I will also be using it to take photos and videos when possible. I thought about taking my Sony Handycam for video, but decided against it for two reasons. First, it’s another piece of hardware to carry around. Second, I don’t know if vendors will allow me to walk around shooting video of everything they demo. For those that allow me to take video, I’ll have my S5.

In addition to the three machines above, I’ll also be carrying various cables, adapters, and external chargers for my smartphone.

And there you have it, my ASHP Midyear 2014 technology loadout.

Saturday morning coffee [November 2 2013]

“The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widely spread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.” ― Bertrand Russell, Marriage and Morals

So much happens each and every week that it’s hard to keep up sometimes. Here are some of the tabs that are open in my browser this morning along with some random thoughts….

The coffee mug below comes straight from the corporate offices of ScriptPro in Mission, Kansas. I found myself there earlier this week. It’s an impressive place. The ScriptPro campus encompasses several city blocks housing everything from administrative personnel, to warehouses full of ScriptPro hardware, and even research and development. Most of you probably know ScriptPro as the maker of systems for outpatient pharmacy prescription filling, but that’s not all they do. I was surprised to learn that they do a lot lot more, not only in the outpatient space, but in the inpatient space as well. When I first arrived a nice young lady offered me coffee, which I gratefully accepted. During my conversation with the President and CEO of the company, Michael Coughlin, I mentioned that the coffee mug I was using reminded me of a pharmacy mortar. He said “if you like it, keep it”. Now it’s part of the Fahrni coffee mug museum.

Continue reading Saturday morning coffee [November 2 2013]

Saturday morning coffee [August 4 2012]

So much happens each and every week that it’s hard to keep up sometimes. Here are some of the tabs that are open in my browser this morning along with some random thoughts….

The coffee mug to the right comes from the University of Texas in Austin, home of the Longhorns. I picked it up last week while the Fahrni crew was on vacation terrorizing the Lone Star State. Feel free to read about what we’ve been up to here.

- Dark Knight Rises remained #1 at the box office last weekend. I’ve already seen Dark Knight Rises so my wife and I went to see The Watch instead. The Watch is a terrible movie, but it’s funny as heck. If you’re looking for a crappy movie that will make you laugh out loud at times, then the Watch is for you. I don’t regret seeing it as I was due for a good laugh, but I wouldn’t see it again. It’s a Redbox rental, if you know what I mean.

– Music for this morning’s blog composition, Candlebox.
Continue reading Saturday morning coffee [August 4 2012]

“What’d I miss?” – Week of July 13

As usual there were a lot of things that happened during the week, and not all of it was pharmacy or technology related. Here’s a quick look at some of the stuff I found interesting.
Continue reading “What’d I miss?” – Week of July 13

Poor economy equals fewer pharmacy IT projects

Healthcare IT News: “The economy is forcing hospitals to consider delaying or scaling back their IT projects, according to a survey of America’s “most wired” hospitals and health systems.The Most Wired Survey, conducted annually by Hospitals & Health Networks magazine, the journal of the American Hospital Association, found that even with incentives being made available to implement IT, hospitals  still have a long way to go.”
Continue reading Poor economy equals fewer pharmacy IT projects

Windows 7 Ink Input and Tablet PC

Tablet PCs have tremendous value in a decentralized pharmacy model. I am a big fan and have been fortunate enough to have both a Director of Pharmacy and CIO that are supportive of technology and my desire to use it. Last year our department configured two tablet PCs to be used by our critical care and pediatric pharmacists. The tablets are primarily used on rounds to gather information on patients. While utilizing the tablets the pharmacists have full access to our Siemens Pharmacy System for the patient’s medication record and crucial labs. In addition, the pharmacists can access the nursing and physician clinical systems, giving them quick access to additional information such as H&Ps, physician progress notes, nursing progress notes, finger stick results and much more. The tablets have been well received by the pharmacists.

You can imagine my excitement when my brother sent me an interesting link to a “blog dedicated to the engineering of Microsoft Windows 7.” The page contains information specific to advances to the tablet PC input experience.  Improvements to the writing pad were deperately needed and the addition of text prediction on the soft keyboard will be a welcome addition. I’m looking forward to the next generation of tablet PCs. Our department has plans to roll out an additional 5 tablets over the next 12 months. Maybe I can hold out for Windows 7.

Batch Files to Increase Pharmacy Efficiency

Our hospital utilizes a decentralized model. One pharmacist in the main pharmacy takes care of the dispensing duties while the rest of the pharmacists are responsible for order entry, kinetics and trouble shooting in their respective areas.

The pharmacist located in the ICU typically participates in daily rounds each morning. If you are familiar with how rounding works, then you know that a pharmacist’s main job is to evaluate drug therapy based on lots of data (patient condition, diagnosis, age, gender, weight, renal status, etc). Accessing this data at the point-of-care is never easy for a pharmacist and they will often rely on the old “pen an paper” to get the job done. With all the advances in technology it just didn’t seem right for them to be doing it this way. Solution? A tablet PC.
Continue reading Batch Files to Increase Pharmacy Efficiency