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Intelligent Healthcare Information Integration 8/4/09

August 4, 2009 News No Comments

The Elegant Palm Pre Cereal Box Top EHR

Yep. Pretty happy with the new Palm Pre. Simple, nonetheless powerful. Stylish, yet practical. Hip, though perhaps not iHip. Zen, and so much so, that I quit maintaining my motorcycle.

But, regardless of the number of contemplatory eggs gracing Palm developer desks, it isn’t perfect. Battery life is abysmal unless you keep all the apps closed. This kind of diminishes the glamour of being able to keep a bunch of ‘em open and switch in and out at will. Of course, if you have a bunch of chargers scattered around, you can keep up and the new magnetic grab-n-go charger helps this. (Thank you, yet again, Mr. Tesla.) Still, I’m used to having my digital six-shooter on my hip and jumping about at will. Remembering to grab the little beauty when I run off to an emergency or bathroom break proves challenging.

Also, the Palm Data Transfer Assistant could use some work. You’ll find lotsa online tales of woe about Palm Desktop or Outlook data migration. (Thank you, Chapura PocketMirror.) Another noticeable weakness is Sprint’s cellular coverage, at least here in my little burg. Verizon had me covered and I could always hear you now. Sprint doesn’t want me getting calls in the surgery center or even sitting at my office desk. (I won’t bore you with why Sprint doesn’t want new business customers to have AIRAVEs to enhance their signal, but will freely give them to established customers – I have to endure crap coverage until them deem me worthy, I guess.)

Still, challenges and foibles aside, I realized the other day that I could pretty much do every common little computer thing I need from wherever I happen to be (within cell tower range.) This is phenomenal! The integrative nature of the Pre and the beyond-iPhone-friendliness of my new pocket-sized phone-calendar-contact database-camera-GPS locator-weather center-web browser-videocam-pager-planner-game system-younameit tool made me realize the future had hit. This was a, “Wow, I can actually do what I’ve always wanted to do,” light bulb moment.

Then, this morning, I was putting my Raisin Nut Bran cereal box away when I noticed the box top. Remember how cereal boxes always had that little semi-cut-out slit you had to punch open to stick the opposing flap’s tab into? Remember how it invariably would not be well cut and your attempt to pop it apart would, also invariably, lead to the little connector piece tearing such that the tab would never hold the flaps closed as intended? Well, some cardboard engineering whiz kid has figured how to cut the tab and its opposing flap indentation such that the punch is eliminated and my little box top stays untorn and closes right every time. Genius, though it took decades to discover.

So, a two-and-two flash strikes. That’s what I want from my EHR. I like my system well enough; it has lots of the gadgets and gizmos I need. The problem is it isn’t Pre slick yet. Close. Kind of like the difference between the Palm Treo and the Pre. Functional, but kludgy. Close, but still not quite brass ring worthy. Missing the box top simple solutions for functionality. I’m guessing many EHR users feel similarly. We know what we need, but no one has the truly elegant answer yet.

I would like to know if anyone out there knows the “Geniuses of the Box Top” and a couple of Palm Pre developers who might be interested in constructing the new Palm Pre Cereal Box Top EHR? To make the next generation EHRs, the ones we really need, it’ll take these types of Zen master geniuses, those who can make all the work underneath appear simple and elegant. Maybe I should ask Fred Astaire.

Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.   – Walter Lippmann

Postscript : Since submitting this piece, I came across a tremendous article, The EHR ‘killer app’, by Jeff Marion on EHRWatch.com. If you haven’t seen it, it is well worth a read.

Dr. Gregg Alexander is a grunt-in-the-trenches pediatrician and geek. His personal manifesto home page…er..blog…yeh, that’s it, his blog – and he – can be reached through http://madisonpediatric.com or doc@madisonpediatric.com.

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