“What’d I miss?” – Week of August 16th

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.

District 9 was #1 at the box office last weekend. My wife and I plan on going to see it either tonight or Saturday. I’m really looking forward to it. Let’s hope it lives up to the hype.

– As an “IT Pharmacist” I’m always getting interesting requests. This week was no different. Two things stand out. The first was a request to help someone get a new ID badge. The look on my face must have given my feelings away because the individual turned and left with a “never mind”. The second was a request to move a printer from the shelf it was on to the one below. I’m not exactly sure what people think it is that I do, but some serious education is needed.

– There is no shortage of interest for the iPhone on the internet. This week I read two interesting blogs that gave different perspectives on medical applications for the iPhone. On The Wards took a purely inpatient view of applications available for the device, while Brian Ahier gave a little more general approach by including applications for clinical trials and finding your nearest cannabis dealer. The one glaring omission from both was the only application for the iPhone that performs pharmacokinetics calculations, RxCalc.

EMR Daily News presented the results of the fourth annual Future Physicians of America survey by Epocrates, Inc. The focus was on
technology in medicine with some pretty interesting results. Nearly 90 percent of students think information available through mobile resources in credible, while approximately 60 percent of the students used decision-support software at least twice daily. Smartphones were centrally important to the medical students with 45 percent of those surveyed using an iPhone or iPod Touch. And the best news I’ve heard all day, 90 percent of the students surveyed felt that information from pharmaceutical sales reps was not credible. It appears that there is hope for the medical profession after all. – By the way, this sounds like a good survey to administer to pharmacy students. Who would like to help me design the questionnaire?

Practice Fusion went crazy this week talking about cloud computing and the safety of your data. Stop by their website, it’s chock full of good information.

IT World: “This got me thinking. Classic Palm OS is dead, practically speaking, and it has been for a long time. My friend could get an iPod touch, which does most of the same things, does them better (I saw Blazer once, and it chilled my soul), and does a lot more to boot. Plus, in a couple of weeks (at the not-yet-announced-but-not-a-surprise-to-anyone September 9 “music event”) the Touch will get better in modest ways (maybe it’ll add a camera, surely it’ll increase storage). I’m skeptical of the mythical tablet, but if it ever shows up, that might be an option, too. In the face of devices like this, it was obvious that Palm couldn’t hold out forever on TXs and Treos. Hence the Pre (which, like Android, I hope will eventually be awesome). But in the meantime, app lock-in bought Palm time to hire a bunch of Apple people to make the Pre, time that they wouldn’t have had if people like my friend could have fled more easily.” – I loved the Palm OS. I had no less than six Palm devices during their peak popularity. The OS had a simple design and was lightning fast. You might even go as far as to say that the design was the pre-cursor to the iPhone look and feel. I’m feeling a bit nostalgic at the moment. I think I’ll go pull my TRGpro out of my dresser drawer and play with it for a while.

Medical Smartphones had an interesting post on haptic feedback for mobile devices. I love the little vibration I get from my mobile phone (LG Dare) when I press a key. I would love to see this type of feature added to the iPhone/iPod Touch. One of my biggest problems with my iPod Touch is the sensitivity of the screen and lack of tactile feedback when I’m typing.

– If you ever wanted to know about SNOMED-CT, stop by the Clinical Architecture website and watch this video. I spent a lot of time on the Clinical Architecture website this week reading about all kinds of interesting things. I highly recommend it.

– Apparently the first two Microsoft retail stores (Scottsdale, Arizona or Mission Viejo, California) are looking for a few good people to hire. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited about the idea of a Microsoft retail store. I love visiting the Apple Store because of all the neat toys, and feel that the Microsoft retail stores should be just as well stocked. Road trip anyone?

medGadget reported on an electronic tongue that essentially tastes food for you. “At this week’s American Chemical Society’s 238th National Meeting, researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign presented a study about a sensor that can accurately detect the presence of any of the common sweeteners used in food products. The business card size sensor has color spots that activate when particular chemicals are detected, and the color pattern as a whole identifies the actual sweetener in drinks and even solid foods.” I think I like the old fashioned way better.

Reuters is reporting that “the recession appears to be easing for U.S. hospitals, although close to a third of hospitals remain in the red, according to a study published on Wednesday. The median profit margin of U.S. hospitals rose from 0.17 percent in the third quarter of 2008 to 3.1 percent in the first quarter of 2009, the analysis from Thomson Reuters found.” – I can’t speak for the rest of the country, but the most recent news from our CEO for last quarter was positive. Here’s hoping that the trend continues.

Medscape: “Medically Prescribed Heroin Superior to Methadone for Severe, Refractory Opioid Dependence – A new Canadian study, which was not conducted in the United States because of potential funding and approval barriers, shows that treatment with injectable diacetylmorphine — also known as medically prescribed heroin — is more effective than oral methadone for chronic, refractory opioid addiction.” – The actual article is in the August 20 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

– And finally, my laptop died again this week. In fact, it died last night while I was in the middle of writing this post. Thankfully I do almost everything online now with Google Docs and Microsoft Live Mesh, so the damage was only minor. I’m not sure how the rest of you feel about Dell machines, but I haven’t been impressed. Dell is the hardware of choice for my hospital and the folks in the IT department are taking that decision to the grave with them. I’ve asked for permission to purchase my own 15″ MacBook Pro and add it to the hospital network.  Unfortunately my request was denied in glorious fashion. With the exception of tablet PCs, I think Apple is building better machines than most Windows based manufacturers at the moment. In my opinion, the best option currently available is to purchase a MacBook Pro and install Windows 7 (when available) on top of Mac OS X Snow Leopard. Can you think of a better machine? I didn’t think so.

7 thoughts on ““What’d I miss?” – Week of August 16th”

  1. Jerry what we need is a pamphlet that we hand out to everyone in the pharmacy concerning the difference between IT and Pharmacy Informatics. I get these types of things all the time. People want a “quick” path to get what they want from IT, and for some reason they think because we deal with the clinical information in IT’s systems, we should be able to do everything else as well.

  2. Jay,

    If your IT group is completely against Macs maybe, just maybe, you can get them to purchase a Lenovo ThinkPad for you? They’re very nice machines; fast, reliable. If all else fails get them to buy you a big momma Dell laptop, top of the line. That tinny piece of junk you have is only good for executive types that do nothing more than answer e-mail all day.

    Serious computing requires serious hardware. A MacBook Pro is an obvious choice to those that know anything about hardware. They’re seriously great Windows boxes, although I’d consider installing WIndow on a Mac dumbing the Mac down, it’s still a very viable option. Dual boot it!

  3. I agree. It’s really kind of funny. When I first started working at the hospital I was more than willing to help out whenever someone needed it. I kind of became a “go to guy” for pretty much anything and everything. Unfortunately it created the mess I’m in now. I’ve been trying to create a distinct definition of items that I’m responsible for and a list of things that everyone call the “Help Desk” for. All its done is create some bad feelings. I’m trying to grow the position into something more advanced with project management and decision making authority, but I’m not having much luck. It really goes to show you that our profession is still maturing.

  4. Hi Rob,

    I tried the ThinkPad route as well; no luck. During my trip to Philadelphia I had dinner with the IT director in charge of equipment. I wanted to know the expected lifespan of our laptops assigned to us by the hospital. My Latitude D520 is two years old and well past its prime (1.66 GHZ, 1GB RAM). Anyway, he informed me that they give the laptops an infinite lifespan as far as the hospital is concerned. My laptop is my primary machine; docked desktop workhorse at work, mobile workhorse at home and on the go.

    In order to get a new laptop, I have to write a budget proposal, which I did, for the next fiscal year. Because money is tight in healthcare, it didn’t make it past the first round of cuts. The next opportunity for me to get a new machine will be October 2010. You and I have spoken at length about the view many hospitals take when it comes to equipment and software. Live with it or move on, I suppose.

  5. Hi Jerry,

    We at MotionApps love Palm OS too. Did you have a chance to try the new Palm’s Pre device? Our Classic emulator would let you run your legacy Palm OS apps on powerful Pre hardware. We partner with several companies in the medical software field, and would love to hear your insight on the principle of emulation and “breathing in new life” to your existing (and probably critical for your work) Palm OS apps.

    MotionApps team

  6. Hi MotionApps team,

    I have not used a Palm Pre, but have heard of your product. I love the idea. I am a Verizon die-hard, and unfortunately, that eliminates both the Palm Pre and iPhone from my circle of possible devices. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  7. Hey, we respect commitment!:) If there is such an opportunity in the future (webOS device available on Verizon), make sure to let us know if you would like to try Classic with the Palm OS software you have.

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