Do it yourself

For those willing to tinker, consider using a database. Basically, this is the electronic equivalent of a form. Think of all the forms that you fill out every day for audits, administration and prescriptions. A clerking sheet is also a form, with headings such as 'history of presenting complaint', 'past medical history' and 'examination findings'. You can easily convert all of these paper forms into a database.

Databases are so useful that all the case studies of Section II have used this type of software for one purpose or another.

You are welcome to use the clerking database we developed, which is described in Chapter 14, and it is freely available on this book's website. But, as a student, I found it a useful educational exercise to design the templates myself. It focused my mind on the clerking process. Most people find it relatively easy and painless to set up fields in a database with clerking headings such as PC (presenting complaint) and FH (family history).

Many database programs are available for Palm-compatibles and Pocket PCs, and most are excellent. Pocket PCs even include a program called Pocket Access. However, I am a great fan of HanDBase (www.ddhsoftware.com). In my opinion, no other program is so easy and powerful to use, or works with so many handheld computer types and databases.

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