When I was a medical student I carried around a little black notebook. It held my lists of differential diagnoses, workups, and other key clinical pearls. In the middle of clinic when I needed to know the workup for rickets I had it right at my fingertips. I had dozens of lists and differentials, many of which saved me on rounds or during busy ICU shifts.
I still keep lists and cheat sheets. But now I keep them on Evernote. Evernote is an application that allows the digital capture of notes, images, PDFs, etc in one place. The iPhone app is phenomenal and syncs with Evernote on my Mac (or PC).
Here are 8 ways I use Evernote to make my medical life simpler:
1. Workups. Can’t remember the workup of a baby with cholestasis or the latest evaluation for autoimmune hepatitis? I do liver for a living and I sometimes can’t keep it all straight. An Evernote list is perfect place for differentials. And the lists are right on my phone – if I catch wind of something new during a seminar or lecture, I can update my list on the spot. I encourage students and residents at Baylor College of Medicine to record their differentials and workups as they learn them. What you hear on rounds today you won’t remember in two months.
2. Names.I just can’t seem to remember the names of all those wonderful ladies in medical records.So I keep them on a list that I peek at just at before going to complete charts.Disingenuous?No.Smart, yes.
3. Capture papers, PDFs and peripheral stuff. Evernote is a great place to keep journal articles, images and other stuff for reference. And all of it is retrievable on your iPhone or Blackberry. For a great screencast detailing how to use Evernote this way, check out this great video by fourth year medical student Ryan MacDonald.
4. Patient plans. If you keep up with 33 Charts you’ll know that I use dry erase boards in my office to help patients understand differentials and plans. Many times I snap a picture into Evernote and refer to it at the end of the day when completing charts (no patient information attached, Evernote isn’t HIPAA compliant).
5. Special dosing.Sure we’ve got Epocrates and other great apps for medications, but there are still situations where you need to remember special dosing protocols.For example, 2-3 times a year I use methotrexate for crohns disease.I keep my recommended dosing schedule and monitoring protocol right in Evernote.This week I had to start subcutaneous vitamin B12 on a boy with short gut syndrome.I recorded the protocol that our PharmD and RD uncovered.Next time I’ll have it at my fingertips.
6. Grab that poster. At meetings I have used Evernote to capture pieces of poster abstracts. Conclusions, graphs, or any other type of content you want to take with you. And your photographed words even become searchable on your iPhone.
7. Capture ideas. Inspiration strikes at strange times. Book ideas, blog concepts, potential articles come and go in my head. A lot of my clinical ideas come when I’m … in clinic. I’ve gotta get ‘em down before they disappear.
8. Stop wandering in parking lots. I travel a lot, Houston has a big airport garage, and I’m getting older. This is bad combination. So I never leave the garage without noting my garage, level and zone. I can even snap a picture of the location or ask Evernote to retrieve notes based on my location.
And I’ve only scratched the surface. If you have any great medical uses for Evernote, let me know in the comments below.
Other links of interest