You may have heard of open-source software. When it comes to open-source, "free" has two meanings. First, you can download open-source programs at no cost. Second, "free" means freedom. The software is free in the sense that it belongs to you as much as it belongs to anyone else. If you download an open-source program, you can use it in any way you choose. You can use it forever as-is, ...

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Hospital email is supposed to be secure. This means that when you get an email with possible sensitive information, you receive a link to connect to a secure email product, requiring passwords, sign-ins and maybe even a bit of personal information. Being what they are, hospitals tend to swap software products and we find some new “secure solution” that hits us, urging us to give email, make a password and possibly ...

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Have you ever wondered why your computer often shows you ads that seem tailor-made for your interests? The answer is big data. By combing through extremely large datasets, analysts can reveal patterns in your behavior. A particularly sensitive type of big data is medical big data. Medical big data can consist of electronic health records, insurance claims, information entered by patients into websites such as PatientsLikeMe and more. ...

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In about 1990 we got our first computer. I say "we" because my husband and I shared a desktop which I used infrequently. I mostly used it for word processing, and the Internet was very young. At the turn of the millennium, my children were using computers, and they were limited to 1 hour of computer time a day, which was on a shared desktop. By 2001, I was communicating ...

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The prevalence of burnout among physicians is estimated to be more than 50 percent and has grown in recent years. This alarming trend is largely due to changing patient demographics, increasing cost constraints, new federal and state regulations, and other external factors that have reshaped the daily work experience of physicians. Too often today, physicians spend more time on data entry than in direct patient care. Professional burnout, ...

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I walked into the ICU amidst a chaos of harried residents, chirping alarms, and the whir of the portable X-ray machine. Aromas ranging from old coffee down to vomit and stool mixed together in the usual fashion. In other words, it was a typical morning. I watched as my team gathered into a semicircle around me outside the first patient’s room and I got into my morning rounds stance: leaned ...

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I’ve finally found my groove with our EMR. Maybe I’m even starting to like it. A few weeks ago I got a new iPad, this time a Mini, which lets me type with two thumbs the way some people text on a smartphone, and the voice transcription is good enough as long as you avoid fancy jargon and unusual generic drug names. Yesterday as I sat next to a patient and ...

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Rates of physician burnout are rising, and many physicians cite their electronic health record (EHR) as the primary culprit. That’s no surprise, since doctors spend twice as much time on electronic health record (EHR) systems and deskwork as they do directly interacting with patients. Let that sink in for a moment. Imagine if an airline pilot spent six hours documenting every detail of a ...

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I find myself spending close to an hour on the computer each morning at the hospital. I spend this time dutifully looking up vital signs, labs, recent radiology or pathology results as well as many other valuable pieces of information about each of my patients. I watch as my colleagues frantically record values, while making sure to point out important trends and gross abnormalities. When we round, there is always a ...

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Doctors see firsthand the toll that today’s increasingly stressful society takes on patients: Engineers, office managers, teachers, you name it. Work demands have increased, as has multitasking. Pressures outside the workplace add additional stress. Often, parents chauffeuring children to multiple activities must also care for aging parents with increasing needs. Electronic devices, always in hand or close by, command our attention (due to work or personal needs, sometimes simultaneously). Finding a ...

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