The theme: core Mac/iPhone applications for doctors / healthcare professionals.
I was a bit apprehensive about posting after Tim’s masterpiece of Mac-geekery.
But I decided to go ahead and post a list similar to the ones posted by Cris, Walter and Theresa.
I’ll start with a short introduction about me and the kind of work that I do.
I am a radiologist practising in a small city in India. In spite of what my twitter friends may believe, I am not a Mac geek of any standing. If pushed, I would classify myself as an educated user. Nonetheless, my contribution to this ‘mac core apps’ meme might be of value because I am a rare bird. I am a doctor in India who blogs and almost exclusively uses Apple computers. That is a very rare combination. I know of only two other people who fit in that group; Suresh and Rambodoc [I'd be more than happy to add anyone else who thinks they fit the bill]. I am a diagnostic radiologist working in a mid-sized general hospital (120 beds). We are equipped with radiography (recently upgraded to computerized radiography), ultrasonography and a basic multi-slice CT scanner. All my equipment is DICOM compatible, including the portable ultrasound unit. We even built in a wireless modem in the portable ultrasound scanner’s trolley to transmit images to our indigenous PACS server (more about that below).
I believe that radiologists, because of the nature of their job, tend to be a bit more technically adept than other doctors. I am probably a bit more technically adept than the average radiologist in India, basically because of my personal interest in all computer-related stuff.
Some acknowledgments are in order before I list the core Mac hardware and applications that I use. I’m grateful to my medschool classmates and dear friends Suresh, Raghu and Shyam for introducing me to the wonderful (albeit expensive) world of of Apple computers. I’m also eternally obligated to Suresh for giving me a lot of cool technical toys (mostly Mac) to play with at work. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the many technical tips and support provided by Suresh, Raghu & Abel. More recently, I appreciate all the tech support and tips that I’ve received from my online friends; Moof, Arunn, Enrico, Rob, Walter, Ian, symtym & Cris.
Now for the real post….
Apple hardware that I use.
iMac. The primary computer at work. In my CT reporting room. 2006 model. 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo, 2 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM. The iMac’s primary monitor is 17”. The secondary monitor is a 20” Samsung SyncMaster 206BW
Mac Mini. In my ultrasound scan room, which is in a different location about half a kilometer away from the main hospital building. The two places are linked by fiber-optic cable. I view all CT scans and radiographs done when I’m in the ultrasound room on OsiriX (more below) in the Mini. It’s a 2005 model. 1.25 GHz PowerPC G4, 1 GB 167 MHz DDR SDRAM. Monitor: 24” SGI – part of the SGI O2 workstation (Virtuoso) that came with the Siemens Somatom VolumeZoom. The O2 died, so I took over the great monitor for remote viewing CT scans & digital radiographs through OsiriX. This is one of two Minis in the hospital, one of which we scanned on CT (here & here).
iBook - My personal laptop. 2004 model. 1.2 GHz PowerPC G4, 512 MB 133 MHz. Primary Monitor 12”. With a new 60GB HD. Small, I know. But the original HD was only 30GB, so I’m content. For now. Looking forward to an upgrade to MacBook Pro by Dec 08 / Jan 09.
Backup: 250GB Western Digital My Book External Hard Drive (USB2.0). Used with Time Machine. A recent acquisition after a near catastrophic HDD failure in my iBook. Fortunately, I could retrieve all the data on the old HD. I use this primarily for periodic backups of my iBook. There isn’t too much of essential non-redundant data at the workplace Macs. Most of the non-personal redundant stuff is also stored in the hospital’s server, as are the radiology related stuff.
- One each of Apple’s wired & wireless keyboard & Mighty Mouse.
- One Logitech Notebook Optical Mouse
- One iSight webcam (for my iBook)
- One Wacom Tablet that I hardly ever use. Not because I do not like it, but because I am too busy to experiment with it.
- Assorted USB hubs.
- AirPort Express WiFi modems at home and at work
- An USB CDMA modem that I borrow occasionally from the hospital when I go out of town & need to see some CT images on the DICOM web viewer - Oviyam (more below)
- I do not own a printer. AT work there are two HP Laserjet 1022n-s - the workhorses in my department used for reports and departmental stuff; a HP Color Laserjet 2600n and a Xerox Phaser 6200 color laser for color prints at the department. [I had forgotten to include printers. This was updated on 03.09.2008 after seeing Ramona's post]
- I don’t own a scanner either. There’s one flatbed HP in the hospital if I need one. Ours is very much a paper and pen work environment.
Mobile Phone - Motorola A1200 Ming. I know it’s not an Apple product. Actually it doesn’t even sync with my Macs. But I fell in love with its looks and bought it in spite of that handicap. It’s a smart PDA phone that has replaced my trusty little Palm Zire (which has since been handed down to my wife). I would’ve loved to have the new 3G iPhone, but as most of you who follow me on twitter know, I’m upset at the exorbitant cost of the iP in India. I’m not likely to buy it till Apple, Vodafone & Airtel reduce its price drastically (sorry, but I don’t feel like linking to any of them).
All my Macs run on OS X 10.5.4 (Leopard).
OsiriX - I cannot sing enough praises for this really superb Advanced Open-Source PACS Workstation DICOM Viewer for Mac OS X. I use this on all three of my Macs. Three other Macs in the hospital also run OsiriX. All the databases are share-able. My friend Suresh and his software team have developed an indigenous PACS based heavily on and integrated with OsiriX. This is the only product placed / advertised prominently in my blog (you can’t miss it on top of the right sidebar). The high point of my visit to my blog (you can’t miss it on top of the right sidebar). The high point of my visit to RSNA 2004 was meeting one of the developers of this Apple Design Award winning software Dr. Osman Ratib for a few minutes at the OsiriX exhibit stall. Suresh and I unfortunately missed the other brain behind the project Dr. Antoine Rosset by a few minutes (he left for lunch and we did not get a chance to come back and meet him). One of the many cool features of this software is the ability to sync and export radiological images from OsiriX to your iPod. OsiriX syncs with iPhoto seamlessly. It allows one to export DICOM images directly as JPEG images to iPhoto. Other export options include exporting a series, say of CT or MRI images as a QuickTime movie, direct export to Mail & iDisc. The newer versions come with integrated DICOM Structured Reporting (which I don’t use).
MS Word:mac 2008: I do all my radiology reports on MS Word for Mac 2008. I have been using MS Word on Windows PCs from the mid 1990s and am very used to it. Know all the keyboard shortcuts, etc,. The Mac version of Word is definitely better designed and is more functional than the Windows version in my opinion. It’s so good that I hardly ever use Apple’s own Pages. Others seem to agree. The departmental secretaries use MS Word on Windows machines to type out reports. I open them in my Macs for proofing/editing before printing. On the days that my secretaries aren’t around, I type my own reports. I’m thankful for that typing course that I attended back in high school (I passed lower grade with a first class. Current typing speed is about 50 wpm). On the rare occasions that I have to type Tamil, I prefer TextEdit or Pages because they do English-to-Tamil transliteration much better than Word.
MS Excel:mac 2008: Mainly used for viewing & working on departmental statistics that are maintained on MS Excel in Windows machines. For this kind of basic use, I’m equally comfortable with Apple’s Numbers. Actually I think Numbers has a better interface and is easier to work with. Researchers like Walter and Cris and picky geeks like symtym will disagree.
Keynote: I use Keynote for all my presentations without exception. The seamless integration with OsiriX and iPhoto helps me with putting in a lot of images. Like Word, I’ve used MS PowerPoint extensively since the mid 1990s. Thought the new MS PowerPoint:mac 2008 is great and is much better than its Windows counterpart, it doesn’t hold a candle to Keynote in my opinion. I would chose Keynote over PowerPoint just for the ability to export to multiple file formats - as QuickTime movies, PowerPoint / Flash presentations, PDF files, PNG images, HTML files and of course to the iPod.
Oviyam - Our very own indigenous web-based DICOM viewer!! The brainchild of Suresh and his team of software guys in the hospital. I use it for viewing emergency CT cases from my house and to report on the rare instances that I’m out of town. This is where the borrowed USB mobile modem comes in handy.
Image Editing tools - I have access to the hospital’s Adobe and Corel suites of image editing / drawing tools. I’m partial to the Corel suite because I’ve been using various versions of Corel Draw & Corel Photopaint from the 1990s. But nowadays, for my minimal needs - adjusting level / contrast / brightness / sharpness / resizing / cropping, etc., - I find the editing options in iPhoto are more than sufficient. I also use ImageWell, but that’s usually for editing images for my blog.
Browsers - Firefox primary. Safari secondary. I like the add-ons and extensions in FF. On my mobile phone I use Opera Mini apart from the built-in browser, which is also Opera, built specifically for Motorola.
FTP clients - Cyberduck & fireftp. Both free and good. I use them for the teleradiology that I talked about and for blog-related stuff. We (as in Suresh & his team) have a working prototype of our own indigeneously developed DICOM uploader that I’m waiting to try out.
Chicken of the VNC for controlling the other two Macs from different locations in the hospital.
Preview and Adobe Reader for reading pdf documents. Of course, I used to use Preview for viewing most images too, but that has become less with the availability of spacebar-for-Quick-Look in Leopard. I’ve been trying out Papers - the iTunes for scientific journal articles, as Cris puts it - for a few weeks now and I’m likely to buy a license after the trial period is over. And I’m very impressed by Skim, suggested by Walter in his list, “think Preview on steroids.”
iCal and the calendar app in my Moto Ming for my minimal scheduling and alerts.
Now for some of the Fun stuff that I couldn’t do without…
Blogging - I love WordPress. I used to use Qumana and ScribeFire, but now that WP 2.6 has Gears support, I don’t use anything else. This post was started on Word:mac Notebook (trying to follow Theresa’s example of laying out a format initially and fleshing it out) and completed on Google Docs. Thanks to suggestions from symtym, who with his typical disdain for software inefficiency, had this and this to say about my idea.
Evernote - for saving interesting stuff for future perusal. Thanks to Cris again.
twitter clients - Twitteriffic TweetDeck and twhirl (also for friendfeed) on the Macs. TwitterBar and TwitterFox addons for Firefox. Tiny Twitter and twittai on my mobile phone. An example of sextuple redundancy
iTunes for music and podcasts.
That brings me to the end of a rather long and an unusually technical post. I hope it wasn’t a total waste of your time. I’ll end with this tweet from twitter-pal Jen McCabe-Gorman. How True!!
Posts by others on this theme (in chronological order with twitter names and urls in parenthesis):
Walter Jessen (@wjjessen): Core Biomedical Research Software and Web 2.0 Tools
If you are a healthcare professional or biomedical scientist, we invite you to share the hardware, software or Web 2.0 tools that you couldn’t live without. What are your core apps? Share in the comments below or write your own post and link back here or to Walter’s post.Start Slide Show with PicLens Lite