20 ways Surgeons should use Evernote

I have previously raved about how useful Evernote is in medical research. It is also a great resource for doctors. EfficientMD has already posted a series on using Evernote in a medical practice, including suggestions for using it as a Electronic Health Record. I would like to extend these ideas, and provide some surgeon-specific recommendations.

To recap, Evernote is an online repository for images, notes and PDFs. It is accessible from the web, a desktop client and the iPhone. All notes, PDFs and images are catalogued and can be searched, including text in images.


    Equipment for operating

  1. Photograph your operation notes.

    Many surgeons dictate operative notes at the end of the day. A photograph of the written operation notes (with diagrams) will help with dictation, particularly if you have a long list of similar cases.

  2. Remember your colleagues’ preferences.

    If you assist in surgery regularly, it is useful to remember the draping, equipment and sequence preferences of your colleagues. Keep a summary in your Evernote account for quick reference before theatre.

  3. Record prosthesis numbers.

    When prostheses are used, the numbers are recorded in the patient’s notes. However, it can be useful to keep this information yourself, in case there is a recall. A text note including the prosthesis number, the patient number and the date means it will be searchable.

  4. Remember procedure and disease codes.

    In Australia, procedure or billing codes are noted on each operating record. Keep a list of your frequent codes in your Evernote account, and you will no longer be troubled by an out of date code-book.

  5. Keep your favourite request forms.

    Pathologists have a vital relationship with surgeons. Don’t miss using your trusted colleague through lack of stationary.

    Fixing people

  6. Differentiate your look-alikes.

    Ever had a couple of Eric Smith’s on your service? With their consent, take a photo and tag it with their URL. Then it is is easy to figure out which one has which results.

  7. Keep patient information handouts accessible.

    Don’t get stuck at outpatients without a copy of your favourite patient information or consent hand out. Access the PDFs on the web and print them out to keep your patients informed.

  8. Keep up to date treatment regimes.

    Other medical services regularly interact with surgery, but it is difficult to keep up with the best practices of other disciplines. Rather than stumbling over chemotherapy details or physiotherapy plans, keep a text note with you, so you can refer to the details.

  9. Remember the scoring systems.

    Many doctors only use one or two severity scores, as it is difficult to remember the details of most others. Remember them, note them in patient records, and benefit.

  10. Remember protocol details.

    Some hospitals have pathways or protocols for certain diseases or procedures. Keeping the protocols with you will let you double check what has been covered.

    Keeping track of the paperwork

  11. Keep your rosters accessible.

    Sometimes you need to access the original roster, and not the details you jotted into your diary. Evernote makes it possible, without increasing you paper load.

  12. Keep patient demographics, in a pinch. Although you probably have another system for keeping track of patient information, sometimes it breaks down. A test note, or a photograph of a patient label will support your main system.
  13. Photograph or scan business cards.

    I always tend to toss out the business card that annoying pharma/equipment rep gave me, but then need it later to get them to talk me through their new mesh/glue/tube-like object. Keep it for ever, and keep it searchable. Remember to tag the photo with the product they were selling.

  14. Keep track of your junior staff.

    Surgical residents, interns and students switch jobs regularly. If you are likely to be called on for feedback in the future, snap a photo of each staff member, label it with their name and file it. (Because we don’t always remember the boring ones.)

    Learning the ropes

  15. Keep your anatomy lists.

    Anatomy is tough to remember. When you want to look something up, make sure you have your summaries, lists or atlas images synced to Evernote.

  16. Surgical lists.

    There are about three million surgical lists to remember, mostly tedious. Evernote will remind you of the obscure causes of pancreatitis.

    Keeping up with the evidence

  17. Save your review articles.

    EfficientMD suggested this one. Keep a copy of you best evidence in your Evernote account, and you will be able to refer to it, or prove your point to that ornery surgeon in your Unit. No more “look it up, it was published this year in Annals..” Read more about this tip here.

  18. Keep contents of your favourite journals.

    Set up a mail rule to send your Table of Content alerts directly to Evernote. Then a search will remind you of relevant articles, published in the journals you trust.

    Use your iPhone for good.

  19. Take quick notes in lectures.

    Evernote for iPhone is not a perfect platform for note-taking. But it beats the Notes client, or bringing notepaper everywhere. Jot a few short notes from conversations or keynote presentations, and you can search and retrieve later at home.

  20. Avoid scribbling - take voice notes.

    The iPhone app contains a useful voice recorder. For those who don’t have access to US only voice recorder (ehem, Jott), Evernote can be used for voice messages while driving, operating, or even when consulting.

Evernote is very flexible, so this can’t be the end of the list. Share your suggestions for “evernoting” your surgical practice in the comments.


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