Palmtops and Handheld Computers?

Discussion in 'Medical Students - DO' started by Cottontop, Dec 26, 2000.

  1. Cottontop

    Cottontop Member

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    I'm looking for some general information on hand held computers/palmtops for starting my clinical rotations. Personal experiences are greatly appreciated as well as any advice; especially any websites that can provide more detailed information and pricing.
     
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  3. Hi Cottontop,

    Check medschool.com discussion forums for exactly this topic. Currently, they aren't as well traveled as these forums but there is a lively discussion of handhelds there, along with links to dealers (the PalmMd link no longers offers the free Palm to those who provide 35 referrals.)

    Happy hunting...
     
  4. alceria

    alceria Senior Member

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    Here are some links to get you started:
    http://www.handheldmed.com http://www.pdamd.com/ http://www.palm.com http://www.handspring.com http://www.palmgear.com
    http:/www.visorcentral.com


    These are just a few. There are lots of sites for PDAs, and some for med students and doctors especially. If you get a PDA, you should check out AvantGo which is a nifty program which will let you download information from various web pages. Medschool.com has their own PDA page for example, as well as some other medically related sites.

    If you have general questions about Palms, I bought a Palm Vx in October and I may be able to help you. I absolutely love it. I'm not in med school yet, so I can't give you too much advice on using it for rotations, but I do know there are several programs made specifically for doctors that you might be interested in.

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  5. Cottontop

    Cottontop Member

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    Thanks to you both. I have spent the last hour or so perusing these sites and am sure I'll be here for a while. Great info! A great way to spend some downtime during the holidays!!!
    Medschool.com was especially helpful; their PDA Resource Center is awesome and provides numerous links including those you both mentioned above and more.
     
  6. Hi...

    Also forgot to recommend my friend Kent's web page (http://pbrain.hypermart.net). It highly leans toward the Palm market, but there are tons of links there which will give you info on software, hardware, user forums, etc.
     
  7. Neurogirl

    Neurogirl Resident Extraordinaire

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    I don't think the handhelds are really necessary during the first 2 yrs of school, but during the clinical years and beyond, they are a must have! As a 4th yr, I am totally addicted to my Visor Deluxe. I use it every day to look up meds, differentials,
    test values, etc. I also use it to read in my down time. It's the only thing (other than Maxwells of course) that I need to carry! Residents and attendings have generally been impressed and several have even asked me to look things up for them.

    Although many people go with Palm, I would strongly recommend the Visor for the simple reason that it is easy to upgrade. To give you an example, the Visor Deluxe is an 8 MB PDA($250). For $75 you can purchase another 8 MB chip that pops into the back. I was told that although the Palms can be upgraded, you have to send them to the manufacturer.

    To give you some idea of the space you'll need, the Merck Manual is 4.5 MB (free through AMSA), ePocrates is approx. 1.1 MB(THE drug reference...much more popular than Tarascon and free to everyone), 5 Minute Clinical Consult is 2.2 MB (only $15 through AMSA). That takes care of your 8 MB! There is so much great software out there that I decided to get the extra chip. All of the books in the "Clinician Pocket Library" are available to AMSA members for ONLY $15!! Most of them are .5 to 1.5 MB. Of course you'll also need room for your address and phone book as well as your calender.
    And don't forget to get a few games!!!! As you can see, most people will need more that the usual 8MB.

    I bought the extra chip, but you should check out other newer models that might have more internal space. The Visor models run on the Palm platform so all the Palm software is compatible. Beware of some of the new Pocket PCs that have 32-64 MB. The memory would be great to have but the Palm software is not compatible with some of these models (for example, you can't use ePocrates...which has some Pocket PC owners really upset).

    Hope this info helps. If you have any specific questions, let me know.

    [This message has been edited by Neurogirl (edited 12-27-2000).]
     
  8. fiatslug

    fiatslug Senior Member
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    Neurogirl & kimberli--how do the older docs and attendings on your clinicals feel about med students & residents using PDAs? Anyone give you any grief?
     
  9. Hey fiatslug - long time no hear! My experience was a mixed bag - either you had attendings who snorted at the use of such devices or they had them themselves! Had one old war horse that (jokingly I think) demanded that I leave my PDA outside of the OR, saying that it might cause the bovie or the anesthetic machines to go haywire. LOL.

    I frankly got tired of sitting in tutorials with the attendings and some of my classmates extolling the virtues of their PDAs, sending each other data files, etc. For some reason, those that seemed the worst about this activity, seemed only to use their PDAs as electronic address books.

    Hope this helps...

     
  10. Neurogirl

    Neurogirl Resident Extraordinaire

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    I have never gotten a single negative response! Everyone has either been silent (maybe they weren't comfortable with the technology) or totally positive and interested in learning all about it.

    [This message has been edited by Neurogirl (edited 12-27-2000).]
     
  11. fiatslug

    fiatslug Senior Member
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    Thanks kim & neurogirl! Kim, I remember you from ye olde chrononet days... ah, that was a great resource. You & Kent & Greg were great sources of comfort to legions of insecure premeds, myself included, back in the day...
     
  12. Thanks - that's nice to hear. I just finished doing an elective in Houston where Greg is doing his Rad Onc residency and he's doing well. Chrononet is still on-line but gets *much, much* less traffic these days. We suppose its the competition.

    Kent is enjoying life in Newport News in his FP residency and has changed the focus of his personal web site to PDAs (http://pbrain.hypermart.net - no wise comments about the "peabrain" URL. I'm sure he's heard them all!).

    Its nice to be remembered after all these years! [​IMG]
     
  13. kidterrific

    kidterrific Senior Member

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    Hey - I got a palm Vx, and I'm loving every minute of it. At Wayne State, where I'm at for my masters, there's some talk about the school buying the students Palm Pilots in the future for med students. Laptops are cumbersome unless they are required. Palms have everything one needs.

    If you have any more questions, email me. Palm pilots are the way to go!

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    [email protected]
     
  14. dwstranger

    dwstranger Senior Member

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    In addition to all that neurogirl said about the Visor Deluxe, you can buy (for about $100) a keyboard called the Stowaway. They make them for the Visor and the Palm. You plug your PDA into it and can take notes, etc. It's much faster than trying to get everything down in Graffiti.

    I am a second year, and this past semester used my Visor to take notes; and in Pharm (ePocrates), in path and pathophys, and in clinics (Merck, 5MCC, and the Harrison's Companion). I also have purchased two extra 8MB modules -- as neurogirl said, Merck is about 4.4 MB, so that is on one module all by itself.

    I heard that some hospitals are requiring students/residents (more the latter, I think) to get PDA'd because of the patient tracking and prescription software (cuts down on errors between the prescription writer and the prescription reader, i.e., doc & pharmacist, because they can beam the Rx directly to the pharmacy).

    I LOVE MY VISOR DELUXE! And people who were initially a little skeptical are now covetting it! Other students in my class want one. And docs in clinics are impressed (in my experience).

    Some people say you should wait until you're actually in the clincial years to invest in one of these, but I have found that it pays for itself -- it's much more than just an electronic datebook or file-a-fax. I'll probably upgrade in a couple of years.

    Woo, woo.
     
  15. alceria

    alceria Senior Member

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    I was planning on waiting until I was in med school before getting a PDA, but being the little electronics geek that I am, I couldn't resist and got the Palm Vx. I'm still working on my BS, also at Wayne State, and I use it a lot for notes. I got the GoType keyboard and I used my Palm a lot last semester for Organic Chem. I would type up my notes (I can actually type faster than I can write, how sick is that???) either on my laptop or on with my GoType Keyboard on my Palm, and then instead of carrying around my textbooks, I just brought my Palm with me. My friends were impressed by how much info I could keep on my PDA. It would be great if some of my friends got PDAs as well, then we could take turns preparing notes and just beam them to each other. Anyway, it's very convienent, because it makes it very easy to study things at any time, you don't need to lug around all your books. I also use it to read the news and e-books too.

    One other thing that is nice about it is that for a lot of tasks, it can replace your laptop. I have a laptop, but it's about two years old now, so it's one of the heavier models. It was not fun lugging that thing to school, along with my other books. And since my school is in downtown Detroit, theft was also a major concern. A PDA can easily fit in a pocket, purse, or backback, so it's much less obvious than toting around a laptop. So I feel like less of a target. And if it did get stolen, I'm out $500 instead of $2,000.

    I definately recommend getting the keyboard if you invest in a PDA. There are two popular kinds out now, the GoType, and the Palm version. The GoType has a case that flips open and is a bit more sturdy than the Palm one. It's more like a normal keyboard, except it's half the size. It's roughly about twice the size of my Palm Vx, so it's still relatively small. The Palm version is nice because it's a full sized keyboard, but it folds up to about the same size as the Palm. One disadvantage is that it has to be on a perfectly flat surface or it will fold in on itself. It also doesn't seem to be as sturdy from the reviews I read. I'm rough on electronics, so I got the GoType. They also make a version for Visors.

    As for the Visor vs. Palm thing, I think the Visor is a really good product. I love the idea of being able to snap in the different cards. However, I think if I would have gotten the Visor, I would have been tempted to buy a bunch of cards I didn't need, and the cards can be pretty expensive. What made my choose the Palm Vx instead was that the case was aluminum instead of plastic. I felt like it would hold up better. Also, I liked that it was rechargeable. I already go through enough batteries with my digitial camera, I didn't want another device to buy batteries for. And I also liked the styling of the Palm Vx better than the Visors. It's a little smaller and a lot sleeker. But I think both are good products, and essentially it comes down to personal taste.
     
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  17. rdennisjr

    rdennisjr SDN Super Moderator
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    alceria:
    Just a quick question for you or others who use the visor. I'm an owner of one (no keyboard yet - just the graffitti) and will be starting PA school this coming fall. I'd like to take notes during class using it but am wondering how this has worked for those who have done it. So what's your note-taking style? Words versus sketches, keyboard vs. graffiti, visor vs. notebook (either paper or electronic!)

    Thanks!


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  18. alceria

    alceria Senior Member

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    What I did last semester for chem was that I usually just took regular notes in class, since most of it ended up being drawings, and then later, when I went through the textbook outside of class, I would type up notes either on my laptop of on my Palm, using the keyboard, and then synchonize everything.

    I would recommend the keyboard if you are going to take notes in class. Graffiti is just too slow for me. GoType makes a keyboard for the Visor, but it's not full size one. You might want to look around online and see if you can find a full size keyboard for the Visor. The only one I know of is the Palm keyboard. The GoType is okay, I use one myself, but the keys are about half the size of the keys on a normal keyboard and if you have big hands, it can prove a challange. I've gotten used to it, but I still make typos here and there that I wouldn't on a regular keyboard.

    Here, I'll post a pic so you can see the size difference:

    [​IMG]

    I would recommend that you take notes in Documents to Go, since the Memo program has a limit on how long a file can be. Docs to Go is nice because you can easily convert the files to Word documents when you sync. There are also a couple programs that will let you make sketches, such as TealPaint and DiddleBug. I recently downloaded DiddleBug and it's a pretty cool program. It lets you draw on the screen, so you can write short notes or diagrams, and it also lets you set alarms for each item. So you could use it to sketch a diagram in class and use it to remind you of your dentist's appointment. There are a couple programs out like that one, so you might want to look around.

    I'd sit in the back of the classroom at first too. [​IMG] Be prepared for a ton of people coming up to you and asking about your keyboard/visor. People will just sit and watch me type on it, it's so funny. Heh, if you're lucky you'll be able to convert some of your classmates and then you can beam notes back and forth to each other!

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  19. rdennisjr

    rdennisjr SDN Super Moderator
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    Thanks for the info - I think I'll be giving it a shot! By the way - if for some reason becoming a physician doesn't work for you, I think you have an infinite variety of futures in front of you *-) Great web site.

    D

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  20. DrWBD

    DrWBD Formerly 'wanna_be_do'
    Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved

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    I'm a 2nd year student with a Visor Deluxe (an early adopter, I got it December of 1999 [​IMG] ). I recommend it to students who don't want to spend a ton of money on a Palm Vx. The only things I don't like are the lack of Flash ROM (which DOES matter to some owners, despite what Handspring thinks) and the really goofy hard cover that they come with..the Palm flip cover is much better.

    Neurogirl mentioned the 8MB Springboard cartridge, which I also plan to get. Keep in mind, though, that the extra 8MB can't be used for actually running programs, it can only be used to _store_ data for programs using the normal 8 MB. It's a subtle distinction but one you might be surprised to discover after buying one.

    Other than this, though, the VDX serves my needs well...I have my class schedule stored in the Date Book+ which makes it really easy to plan my life for the upcoming weeks around the pretty hefty NYCOM exam schedule [​IMG] . ePocrates is great for looking up Pharm and Tox info, and I'm hoping to get Pocket Harrison's before starting rotations.

    Rdennisjr, I was trying to figure out a way to take notes in class as well using the visor. The problem was I could never find a way that was truly better than simply using pen and paper. Graffiti is too slow and cumbersome for me to use for notes, and programs like Diddlebug or Sketchpad were just too much hassle because the touchscreen really wasn't designed for high speed notetaking required in most of my classes.

    I was actually looking into something like the CrossPad, you might find info on it on Yahoo!. It's a digital pad that uses regular paper and a radio transmitter pen that stores your data electronically in the pad, so you can save your notes to your PC as image files (or use the OCR to transform your handwriting to text). Unfortunately, it looks like Cross no longer sells them..oh well [​IMG] Maybe some other company sells a similar product, you might have more luck finding one than I have.

    Oh, and check pdamd.com for Palm info!


    [This message has been edited by wanna_be_do (edited 12-31-2000).]
     
  21. wooo

    wooo Senior Member

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    I am clueless about these things. Could you list the things this devise does for you that makes life easier? I can write 10x faster than typing, so will it benefit a slow typer?

    Does the grafitti type allow you to write instead of type?

    Thanks for the help.

    [This message has been edited by wooo (edited 12-31-2000).]
     
  22. alceria

    alceria Senior Member

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    Hey, I know what you are talking about! That Crosspad thing is really cool. I read an article about it awhile ago on some website, and now that I have all this Xmess money lying around, I was thinking about getting one, and I can't find the freaking site again! I don't think they are called crosspads anymore though. I thought it was something like SmartPad but I haven't had any luck finding the silly thing again, even though I spend like twenty minutes looking the other day. If I find the link, I'll post it though! It really would be a great solution for those of you that prefer handwriting and want the convience of using your PDA as well.

    Oooh, and RDennis, thanks for the compliement! [​IMG]



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