Information Management and Digital Communication Efficiency in Medical School

Summary notes for a fall 2013 talk on information management to the incoming Dalhousie Medical School class. Some of the information is specific to Dalhousie, however, the majority of ideas are more generally applicable.

Information Management and Digital Communication Efficiency in Medical School

•          Main Information Sources:
·      DalMedix—repository of longer term information such as departmental & classmate contact info, numerical marks, immunization record.
o   Copy & paste classmate contact into Excel, then save as a comma-separated-value (.CSV) file and import into your address book and on-line contacts.
·      One45—medium term information including schedule, forms for electives, and qualitative written evaluations. Note that the schedule changes up to the week prior, so best not to export too far in advance.
o   Export weekly schedule & import to iCloud or Google calendar. On Mac’s drag and drop the schedule into Calendar to import it. On an iPad, choosing to “export” the calendar should automatically open  the Calendar app and import it.
·      BBlearn—daily information including lecture slides and video of recorded lectures.
o   Save the PDF to your computer or “open in” an iPad PDF management app. I recommend “goodreader” on the iPad, Preview or Acrobat on the Mac, and Acrobat or NitroPDF on PC for annotating the PDF lecture slides. I would suggest NOT renaming the lectures.
·      Class Facebook Page—provides an easy, regular way of sharing information and relevant material.
o   …Need a method of efficiently saving linked information for later retrieval, as it can be hard to find under more recent posts. Evernote works well for clipping the URLs, saving HTML or PDF files, and pasting in images.

·      Information Markup
o   PDF annotation programs & apps:
§  NitroPDF-- Windows
§  Acrobat-- Mac/Windows
§  Preview—Mac
§  Goodreader—iDevices (there are a number of apps that will allow you to store, markup, and upload PDFs on an iPad, however, Goodreader does all of this well, includes zoom capabilities for hand writing on the tablet, works well as a document manger, and costs $5.
o   Moving clipping visual data—can be very useful to capture charts, flow diagrams and images from PDF texts or websites.
§  command-control-shift-4 on a mac, “Print Screen (prtSc) or the snipping tool in Windows will capture an image (.png) file to the clipboard that you can then paste into a MS word tutorial case file, and Evernote note, or elsewhere. Some programs, such as NitroPDF and Skitch have this feature integrated.

·      Information Storage
**Keep in mind that any information stored in the “cloud” is potentially unsecured. With the possible exception of certain institutionally accepted services it is not an appropriate storage method for ANY personally identifiable patient information or sensitive personal information. It is a very convenient and efficient storage method for non-sensitive general medical information that will compose the majority of the initial medical school studies.**

o   Cloud Drives (Dalhousie’s new MS SkyDrive access may offer more data security than commercially available systems)à Multi-device and location availability of static content (texts, papers, etc.). Allows access to your data from any computer / internet connection.
o   Evernote--> Multi-device and location storage and search of dynamic content, including multiple file formats grouped together according to subject matter, powerful integrated search of image files, PDFs and office documents.
o   Reference manager (Papers2)--> storage, retrieval & sharing of PDF copies of references. Can match a downloaded PDF paper to the data available on the web about that paper and then automatically generate a reference lists for research paper bibliographies.

·      Backups
§  Synced cloud storage is not a backup. If it's gone in one location, it syncs to be gone in all of them. Buy an external hard-drive and use it.

·      Communications
Dalhousie recommends not forwarding your Dal email to another account. Certain situations may prefer that students use un-forwarded Dal email for privacy reasons (e.g. Health Mentors). I find forwarding my various email accounts to one main account and then organizing the incoming emails to various folders accessible via IMAP clients and online to be more efficient.
§  Forward all mail accounts to Gmail.
§  Create labels for the various categories of emails that you receive.
§  Create filters to route incoming mail to the appropriate label.
§  Set up IMAP clients to be able to send from any of your various emails accounts. (i.e. input the dal server information so that you can send emails from any account you wish via the email client on your Mac, PC, iPad, tablet or phone).

§  Studying
Some find studying from the Unit Objectives helpful, some don’t refer to them at all and simply study what the lecture slides emphasize. Both approaches seem to work. Spaced repetition programs such as Anki work for some. Keeping a list of the actual conditions or diseases encountered in a unit can be a useful way of summarizing and maintaining focus.

Potentially Useful Purchases

GoodReader—PDF annotator & file manager for iPad, $5.
Acrobat—PDF manipulator for Mac & PC (cheaper options available for PC, for Mac, Preview does most, but not all of what Acrobat does), $120 student rate.
Extra cloud storage—if needed, $30 & up / yr.
Evernote Premium—highly recommended storage&sync option, Premium allows more uploads and improves the search capability, $45/yr.
Scanner Pro (or any scanner app that offers good integration with cloud storage)—allows you to photograph a document with your phone, create a PDF, and upload it to the cloud or email it.
Papers2—Mac reference manager for research materials, can sync with iPad / iPhone, match downloaded papers with on-line source data, generate references for research papers, allows easy search, retrieval, and sharing; ~$50 student rate.
Visible Body—Anatomy app for iPad which allows 3-dimensional viewing., ~$35
Harrison’s Internal Med—iPad/iPhone/online version of the text. Useful, but expensive. More convenient and portable than paper copy; $200.
Up-to-Date—Very useful online medical reference database; ~$180/yr with iPad/iPhone apps.
Texts—most can be downloaded in PDF format if you know where to look. Personally, I find PDF copies more useful and portable than paper copies, and easier for multi-platform access than the various e-Pub formats, or HTML restricted access via the university. Consider purchasing the Toronto Notes (~$150) an anatomy text & Tortora Derrikson’s “Principles of Anatomy & Physiology” as a good basic reference.

My WorkFlow

Lecture: Open PDF in safari on iPad via BBlearn portalà “open in” Goodreaderà annotateà upload to GoogleDrive folder for that unit (for backup copy), and “open in” Evernote (which creates a new note)à assign new note to the appropriate notebook for the unit. à Ensure Evernote syncs correctly to server (can hang with larger lectures, if so, the Google drive copy allows to you place it in evernote from your home computer, or via web portal)à If the file has uploaded to both google drive and Evernote, delete the file from Goodreader.
Open in Evernote on home or school computer or iPad for later studying / review.

Tutorial: Download case in MS  Word format to computerà Save it in a new note in evernoteà Clip links, PDFs, and images referred to in the “case reference materials” into the same noteà Write answers to the case questions in the original word document, copy and paste text or screenshot images (⌘-control-shift-4 to save to clipboard on Mac, snipping tool on PC) into the word document or the evernote noteà Access during tutorial via evernote on iPad.