October 8, 2009

Software Links for iPhone of interest to Nurse Educators

One of the frustrations of the iTunes Store is the number of supposed "Medical" apps that are not designed for healthcare providers or students. The folks at SoftwareAdvice.com, a commercial site that is paid for through vendor links, offers a great page highlighting some of the best medical software out there for iPhone and iPod Touch. Out of the over 1500 medical apps they determined only about half were actually of use to professionals. I mostly agree with their list. Also be sure to check out the spreadsheet of the over 700 medical apps. It's a great tool for finding apps you never knew about.

April 17, 2009

NANDA: Suicide by Greed?

I was sent a document by NANDA-I outlining their fees for use their diagnostic labels in publications. I was stunned by the fees. For example, just to create a list of terms is $250. But wait, there's more. If you want to create a textbook using the diagnoses be prepared to fork over anywhere from $3500 to $65,000! These numbers do not even include their use in software. I asked last summer for the cost and was quoted $3000 plus $2.50 for every copy of the program sold.

Nursing is in great danger of being left behind as electronic health records go online. We need a way to communicate what we do. While many have complained about the circuitous language and downright silly labels of some NANDA nursing diagnoses, they at least provide a common language for documentation until something better is developed.

If NANDA-I and Wiley-Blackwell Publishing insist on taking this usurious tack then we should let NANDA-I diagnoses die a quick death. Many of the terms they use could be challenged as in the public domain. Only a list of diagnoses and definitions that are in the public domain will provide us with the common language that can be used freely for practice, documentation, research, and billing.

March 27, 2009

NLN Nursing Education Summit 2009

Be sure to save the dates of September 23 to 26 for a trip to Philadelphia and the NLN Education Summit. I have attended nearly every one for the past few years and find them very valuable. It is a great opportunity to hear about advancements and issues in nursing education from across the USA. It is always good to meet fellow nurse educators facing the same issues you do. I often find new ways of thinking about a problem that helps me in my teaching. Issues of admission, classroom instruction, clinical instruction, special students, and community involvement are just some of the topics you are bound to hear about. Hope to see you in Philly!

February 13, 2009

Palm OS: RIP

Palm has announced the end of development of its PalmOS, or operating system. They are opting for a web-based system and hoping to survive in the shadow of the Apple iPhone and RIM Blackberry. The are moving to their Palm "Pre" smartphone that requires network access to operate.

It has been frustrating for nurse educators that the current PalmOS has been unchanged since 2004. That is an eternity in personal computing. The future of small PalmOS devices that have been popular with nurses such as the E2 and Tx is more uncertain than ever. Considering the huge processing, graphics, and memory advantages of the Apple iPod Touch, let alone the easy installation of applications through iTunes, it was clear the end of Palm as a clinical choice was near. Nurse educators considering adopting the Palm should do a careful consideration of price, value, and support ease before making a decision.

January 26, 2009

Nursing Central from Unbound Medicine

Unbound Medicine has released Nursing Central for the iPhone and iPod Touch. It offers the Davis Drug Guide, Lab and Diagnostic Tests, Diseases and Disorders reference, and Taber's Medical Dictionary. There is also a Medline Journal citation and abstract explorer. The Nursing Central app is offered free on iTunes but unlike Skyscape it has no free references for download. However, unlike Skyscape the references will reside on the iPhone or iPod Touch and continue to work after the subscription period of one year. During that year you have unlimited free updates.

The Nursing Central titles stick much closer to Apple Guidelines for the user interface. The Skyscape titles look more like Palm apps. Performance is good and I had no crashes. The user interface is pretty intuitive as the icons are clear about their purpose. Even the front page icons for each title are beautifully rendered. One shortcoming is that some titles in appendices get truncated due the use of large font sizes. I hope that is corrected in an update.

One issue for faculty is the cost. The only package offered is a $159 subscription. I look at this as $40 for each of the reference titles plus the Medline search tool for free. That is a reasonable price per title when compared to the print editions. The biggest benefit is that the reference titles continue work after the subscription. As of today Unbound Medicine is the only company offering this. Skyscape, Epocrates, Lexi-Comp and Pepid all shut down at the end.

Installation is easy but requires installing the app on the Apple device and then paying for the subscription online. Once the username and password are entered the titles begin to download. Be sure you are in a WiFi area when loading.

Overall, Nursing Central brings nursing educators to a point where we no longer need to recommend the use of a Palm or Windows Mobile device for clinical references. With the addition of some of the free and inexpensive medical formula tools, assessment guides, and learning aids available in the Apple App Store we now have a powerful handheld computer for clinical use.