Views & Reviews Laying Foundations

Jet packs

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e8342 (Published 10 December 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e8342

Re: Jet packs

I, like Oliver, bemoan the lack of hoverboards and jetpacks that were promised to me by many forward-looking films of the 1980s. I also bemoan the seeming antiquity of many hospital record systems, having spent many a frustrated hour searching amongst piles of paper around nurses stations and by bedsides for the notes for Mrs X in Bed Y. However, having rotated through hospitals with both fully computerised and partially computerised patient notes, I have also seen the frustration that can come from wanting to supplement the results of an abdominal examination with a neat and simple diagram, and being forced to use a mouse to scrawl a child-like drawing in a tiny pop-up window.

Rather than trying to come up with a one-size-fits-all solution to the computerised notes problem, it amazes me that we don't just allow healthcare professionals to document on paper, and then have those paper notes scanned in to an electronic system for all to read. We already have an open, accessible, and royalty free standard - PDF - to adhere to (1), and relatively cheap and fast sheet-feed scanners have been available for some time.

Surely that way, we get the best of both worlds? No more searching for notes, no more drawing in tiny windows. Unfortunately, it doesn't solve the problem of the unreadable management plans, but I'm sure the future holds something in store for that.

1. http://www.iso.org/iso/news.htm?refid=Ref1141

Competing interests: My previous career involved user interface design. I own one of the cheap, fast, sheet-feed scanners I mention above.
16 December 2012
Adam R Pilarski
Medical Student
King's College London
Guy's Campus
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