Getting Started With Google Drive
To review: You have read The Veterinarian and the Cloud (Cloud Vet 1). You know what “the cloud” is. And you’ve been persuaded to try Google Drive. Now it’s time to leverage your cloud storage so you can heal some patients.
In other words, it’s SuperHealing TechyVet time! (sound the dork siren)
Ready to jump in? Hold on, big fella.
First, make sure you have Google Drive installed and working like a well-oiled spay hook. Using your home computer/laptop (the one with all of your files), head to https://drive.google.com/ and sign into your Google account.
Don’t have a Google account? Honestly, shame on you. Don’t you know that “The Google” is the most awesome force on the techy planet?
Sign up and stop questioning me.
If you need help from here (nothing to be ashamed of!), be sure to Adopt-A-Techy. Also check out these links: How to install on Mac | How to install on Windows PC.
Doctoring With Google Drive
Without further delay, here are 11 ways you can use Google Drive to help improve your patient care. And let me remind you: all of the following ideas can be implemented without spending one penny.
1. Your Custom Digital Medical Library
Want to be a walking veterinary encyclopedia? As long as you have your tablet, phone, or are logged into your Google account, this is possible.
First, keep up with veterinary magazines and journals, reading your favorites every month. I know, I know…easier said than done, right? As you read and find articles, save them digitally (by downloading or scanning) into your Drive and they automatically become searchable. Now you are making your reading much more useful, with a goal in mind that helps your care by allowing you to find the articles when you need them most.
Here are some other items that might go into your digital library:
Lecture notes from veterinary school
Consensus Statements and Guidelines
Conference proceedings and notes
Videos of procedures
After graduation from veterinary school, I digitized (scanned or downloaded) all of my (useful) notes and since then have been adding to my library by way of peer-reviewed journals, conference proceedings, lecture notes, and anything else I come across. I organize it by topic and watch it grow. Last I checked, it had over 10,000 documents of fully searchable and always up-to-date resources.
VMD Tech’s Survival Guide to Veterinary Trade Publications »
Want to really impress? A techy hospital owner could supercharge this idea by creating a central digital library of resources for their employees that is constantly being updated and shared via the awesome sharing capabilities of Google Drive.
You can do this too SuperHealing TechyVet!
2. Quick References
Have you heard about VMD Tech’s Digital Bulletin Board?
We all have our favorite quick references that we are constantly flipping to—sometimes on a bulletin board, sometimes in a binder, sometimes on the back of a clipboard.
Armed with Google Drive and a mobile device, you can digitize all of these and have them with you everywhere in a completely searchable and shareable manner.
What else is in my quick reference folder?
Hospital phone lists
Favorite treatment protocols
Drug reconstitution and package insert information
Local rabies laws
Reference lab information
My “nerdbook” (a document of random pearls of information I’ve learned and continue to learn)
This is also where I store what I call my Digital Drug Book and CRI calculators (more on this in a future post). You can even keep all of these offline on your mobile devices as “Offline Documents“. This is a must for use in the horse barn!
Best of all, you will never have to throw paper away because a quick reference was accidentally dipped in hematochezia.
3. Patient Templates
Patient templates are the secret to being an efficient, accurate, and consistent veterinary professional.
Reinventing the wheel (think drafting new discharge instructions for every gastroenteritis case from scratch) is a waste of precious time that could be devoted to your patients and clients. As it turns out, this type of inefficiency also results in poorer outcomes (have you read the Checklist Manifesto yet?).
Templates can be in the form of checklists, written discharges, treatment protocols, electronic treatment sheets (more on this in a future post), communication logs, referral letters, client handouts, daily tracking sheets, etc.
No matter which templates you use, Google Drive can be your storage solution so that you always have them with you, can easily copy/paste them, and can edit and improve them on the fly.
If you give lectures of any kind, Google Drive is perfect for presentation storage.
I once gave an animal first aid talk at a conference full of firefighters. I drove two hours only to realize I forgot my laptop! Eh, I thought, no worries—surely they will have a desktop computer and I’ll just plug in my USB drive.
When I arrived, the computer tower was behind a locked cabinet (no one had the key) and thus I couldn’t access the USB port to plug in my jump drive.
Google Drive saved the day: I simply logged into Drive through my web browser where I downloaded the latest version of the talk.
5. Collaborate on Projects
Using Google Drive’s unique sharing and collaboration capabilities, you can work with colleagues on projects with ease and in real-time. If you regularly publish research, this is also an optimal way to use Google Drive.
I keep a folder on my Google Drive with subfolders of each project I’m currently working on for easy access and shareability everywhere.
Try out Google Sheets on Google Drive to create a flexible and shareable schedule that you and colleagues can work on together. It is then always with you on your devices.
7. Hospital Status Boards
If you are creative, you can design a modern and functional digital status board (example photo courtesy of yours truly) to keep track of your patients.
Put that board on Google Drive and share it with employees, and it can be edited in real-time among multiple users and viewed from anywhere in and outside the hospital.
More on this in a later post…
8. Continuing Education Note Taking
How many times do you go to a conference, take a bunch of notes, and never look at them again (or lose them)? That does not happen to me anymore.
At each conference, I start a Google Doc, name it according to the appropriate conference name, and use my tablet to take notes digitally into this Google Drive document. These notes are then in a Google Drive folder called “Conferences” within my digital library (see number 1 above).
Can’t type fast on a tablet? Find yourself a Bluetooth keyboard for your tablet.
9. Patient Records
Veterinarians don’t have to comply with HIPAA and sometimes that’s a good thing.
Technically, this means that you can store patient data on Google Drive.
I use Drive to keep notes on any patients I see outside of my day job (think doing relief work, your own animals, family/friend’s pets). Legally, if you prescribe medications in these cases, you must maintain some form of patient records, and this is one easy way to do it.
I also store saved patient documents that may be useful later (think those epic discharge instructions you wrote for the near-drowning-pneumonia-DKA-hyperthyroid cat you saved).
10. Patient Photos
You can also use your Drive to store photos of patients or diagnostics that you want to reference later. I frequently do this with patient wounds or interesting cytology or radiographs. I also store a picture of my boxer mix’s impressive underbite for shock value.
Google Drive doesn’t yet allow photos taken on your phone to be automatically uploaded to your Drive (Dropbox does). This is likely a feature coming soon. For now, Android users can download the CloudVault App to accomplish this. Unfortunately for Apple users, I’ve yet to find an equivalent automatic solution.
11. Google Drive Apps
Lastly, Google Drive allows for something completely unique: downloadable add-ons (some free, some paid) that you may want to try out. Here are some of my favorites. Enjoy!
HelloFax – Send faxes and securely sign documents right from Drive.
CloudHQ – Mentioned previously, this allows you to sync your Dropbox, Evernote, and other cloud storage into your Google Drive for easy access.
DocuSign – Another secure way to sign documents within Google Drive.
Floorplanner – Designing a hospital? This is a really slick way to create floor plans.
Pixlr Editor – This is a full service photo editor that enables Photoshop-like editing.
WeVideo – A very simple video editor for you budding directors.
Save to Google Drive – Allows for easy saving of web content to Google Drive.
That’s all folks: my 11 favorite ways to use Google Drive. Try them out and let us know what you think. Before you know it, you’ll be wearing a cape and scrub top that reads: SuperHealing TechyVet!
About the Author
Dr. Caleb Frankel is an ER veterinarian, author, speaker, and entrepreneur. He currently divides his time between two roles: emergency veterinarian at VSEC, a 70-doctor referral hospital in Greater Philadelphia, PA (USA) and the founder of Instinct Science, a new animal health company helping the world’s state-of-the-art veterinary practices streamline their care through medically-driven invoicing and thoughtful automation.
He served as Director of New Product Development at Brief Media for 4 years where he lead the development and launch of products such as Plumb's Veterinary Drugs and New York Vet. Follow Dr. Frankel on Twitter @VMDtechnology.