Jan 28, 2010

eBook formats for medical literature

EBooks are here to stay, and are changing the way Medicine is studied. The sheer volume and weight of Medical literature makes it the ideal candidate for 'Whole batch" conversions to an eBook readable format.

The Mobipocket file format is a binary format for the distribution of eBooks. It is one implementation of the Open eBook Publication format with a number of proprietary extensions. The Open eBook Publication format is developed and specified by the IDPF (International Digital Publishing Forum) an independent organization formerly known as the Open eBook Consortium. As a consequence, the Mobipocket format is based on HTML and is reflowable. Mobipocket supports most features of standard HTML to format and layout text and images.

A few other noteworthy formats include EPUB and Fictionbook. Kindly note that i have not considered any of the non-Open standards.

The .epub or OEBPS format is an open standard for e-books created by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF). Currently, the format can be read by the Apple iPad, Barnes and Noble Nook, Sony Reader, BeBook, Adobe Digital Editions, Lexcycle Stanza, BookGlutton, AZARDI, Aldiko and WordPlayer on Android. Several other reader software programs are currently implementing support for the format, such as dotReader, FBReader, Mobipocket, uBook and Okular. Another software .epub reader, Lucidor, is in beta. Notably, Kindle still does not support this format.

The Kindle supports Mobipocket file format, PDF file format, Amazon's proprietary DRM-restricted format (AZW), as well as the PRC and the TXT formats. 

Eveda format is used for Multimedia EBooks.The 'multimedia eBook' term is used in contrast to media which only utilize traditional forms of printed or text book. Multimedia EBook includes a combination of text, audio, still images, animation, video, and interactivity content forms.

My Choices for Medical Literature ?- At present, it is PDFs and Mobi, besides EPUB.

Waiting for a suitable multimedia enabled file format, with annotation and bookmarking support.

Images- Wikimedia Commons.

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Jan 27, 2010

Just what the Doctor requires- an "iTablet" !

Apple Inc - Photo from my iBook

Apple has created many Gadgets/ applications which have changed the face of health care. The apple "iTablet", when it does come out, could be another such device.
(They called it "iPad" !)

For years, efforts have been made to integrate the use of Tablet PCs in Hospitals. Conventional laptops are just too bulky/big to carry during clinical rounds, and most hand held devices almost "actively" resist being "button-punched". :-)

The much awaited "iTablet" may just be what the Doctor requires!

Take a look at a few of Apple"s e-Health friendly offerings, (via ReadWriteWeb.com)

Mobile Health Momentum
The iPhone has already changed the face of healthcare. Apple shared this fact at last year's iPhone OS 3.0 release and within the keynote at WWDC. The momentum that started with consumer applications has moved to forward-looking doctors and health providers. We know that it is becoming common practice for some doctors and nurses to carry both their company-issued Blackberry and their personally purchased iPhone.

There are already amazing applications in the market. AirStrip allows doctors to monitor patient vital signs and receive alerts from afar. There are now personal health records that can be carried and updated from anywhere.

Additionally, there are information-rich applications that allow nurses, doctors and patients to look up health information in real time. Last week during the Haiti tragedy, an injured individual was able to use an iPhone to treat himself using an first aid application on the iPhone.

Clinician Ready-
Apple and EPIC systems have been collaborating to release the first version of MyChartManager on the iPhone. EPIC is a leading provider of EHR in the United States, and powers systems such as Kaiser Permanente and Palo Alto Medical Foundation in the Bay Area, to name a few. The application, named Haiku was released on Jan. 13, 2010, and several health systems are in the process of testing it. It's a clear contender for the "killer app" in the hospital setting. Looking at the screenshots, it's clear that more screen real estate would be ideal - which means it may be just the right time for an iTablet-like device to emerge on the market.

It's the Apps
It is nearly certain that iPhone OS 4.0 will create a path for existing applications to "upsize" to a tablet device, and this includes size. The medical category today is already the highest-aggregate-priced category on the App Store today, and with the promise of applications inside the clinical walls, the opportunity gets much larger.

The iPhone-to-tablet combination may be the biggest reason that a tablet is successful in the market, since the entire iPhone developer community will be able to deliver on this new platform. With Apple's success in having an integrated OS that shares core libraries across both the Mac and iPhone, it is likely that a table device will also connect with apps from both the iPhone and the Mac.

Jan 12, 2010

Increase in EHR / EMR use, CDC study says

Sample patient record view from VistA Imaging

EHR use is slowly but surely inching ahead. 

Healthcareitnews.com reports that four of every 10 office-based physicians use electronic health records, according to 2009 preliminary estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention..The estimates are based on the CDC's National Ambulatory Medical Survey (NAMCS), an annual nationally representative survey of patient visits to office-based physicians that collects information on the use of electronic medical records or electronic health records.

According to the estimates for 2009, 
  • 43.9 percent of physicians reported using full or partial EMR/EHR systems (not including systems used solely for billing) in office-based practices. 
  • About 20.5 percent reported having systems that meet the criteria of a basic system, (A basic system is defined as having patient demographic information, patient problem lists, clinical notes, orders for prescriptions and viewing laboratory and imaging results)
  • 6.3 percent reported using a fully functional system.(these include include medical history and follow-up, orders for tests, prescription and test orders sent electronically, warnings of drug interactions or contraindications, highlighting of out-of-range test levels and reminders for guideline-based interventions.)

The survey indicates that from 2007-2008, physicians' use of any EMR system increased by 18.7 percent and the percentage of physicians reporting having systems that meet the criteria of a basic system increased by 41.5 percent.

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Jan 4, 2010

Healthcare in early 21st century

Healthcare in the 21st century faces many challenges. Optimum integration of communications technologies can dramatically improve access to quality health care.Services can be made available to almost anyone, at any time, at any location. Besides traditional health service outlets, locations as varied as retail stores, community centers, office buildings, hotels, shopping malls, rural outposts, and homes can become effective care-delivery points.

Cisco HealthPresence is a new concept developed by the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) and prototyped at the Cisco Technology Centre. Using the "Advanced technologies" network as a platform, Cisco HealthPresence combines state-of-the-art video, audio, and medical information to create an environment similar to what most people experience when they visit their doctor or health specialist.

Jan 2, 2010

Demystifying HL7

HL7 was founded in 1987 to produce a standard for hospital information systems.It was accredited in 1994 by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). HL7 standards specify a number of flexible standards, guidelines, and methodologies by which various healthcare systems can communicate with each other. Such guidelines or data standards are a set of rules that allow information to be shared and processed in a uniform and consistent manner. These data standards are meant to allow healthcare organizations to easily share clinical information.

This is a simple explanation using fun animation explaining how HL7 works.


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