Guide to Evernote for Veterinarians: Part 2
Elephant in the Exam Room
I said in Part 1 of this handy Evernote Guide for Veterinarians, I consider Evernote the most important computer application across all of my devices.
Evernote has become my second brain. Every photo, web article, personal note, or file I want to save has its place. I believe I operate more efficiently because I’ve essentially shifted mundane memory responsibilities to it, freeing up my mind for more important endeavors.
There are millions out there like me, including a reportedly 100,000 new users per day. PER DAY! Evernote has revolutionized schools across the world, is used by thousands of medical doctors, and has a cult following in techy regions of the planet (Silicon Valley, Tokyo…). Want more? LifeHacker: Evernote, What’s All the Fuss About.
With that said, in the veterinary community, I come across even the techiest types who don’t know how to use it. Evernote has a lot to offer veterinary medicine, so we’re here to change that.
The following is how I leverage Evernote both in the exam room, and out.
1. Super To-Do List To-do lists (plural) are not very productive. Admit it. You have several lists scattered across sticky notes, pages in a planner, emails, at work, at home, in the car, in your purse, on your hand.
But what about one central, all-knowing to-do list that is accessible and changeable across all devices or on the web and has amazing reminder capabilities? Now. We’re. Talking.
Building a to-do list in Evernote allows it to take on a modern new life. Link parts of your list to websites or other Evernote notes, attach files or photos, incorporate emails… go nuts! It is conveniently available on and offline as long as you have your device in hand.
Bonus: Shared To-Do Lists. You can do the same with shopping lists, gift lists, meal planning, inventory, and more. Share these lists with all people involved and now everyone can update on their devices and in real time. Powerful? Oh yeah.
2. Digital Filing Cabinet & Archiving
I have fully digitized my personal and work life.
My entire filing cabinet is now within Evernote only. I have one non-digital folder remaining with original documents that can’t be stored digitally (car title & passports for example). That’s it. Many a blog detail how to do this better than I ever could: Going Fully Digital.
This digitization includes my entire veterinary life from employment searches, contracts, networking documents, case tracking, CE certificates, and on and on.
3. Project Central & Idea Lists I’m always coming up with ideas I want to develop or deploy at a later date. These often turn into side projects around the hospital and the house. The problem? It’s often hard to capture these ideas during my busy day without them disappearing. If this is you too, Evernote is your new best friend.
I keep a Notebook Stack called “Ongoing Projects”. Within it are Notebooks titled, for example, “Project – VMD Technology”. Within the notebooks are notes of all kind relating to the project.
Here I keep idea lists, articles I read that may be useful, helpful photos, and any related files. Building a new hospital? Starting to offer a new service? Remodeling your kitchen? Buying a clinic? Set up a project notebook and never look back.
4. Bulletin Board Replacement Create a notebook called your Bulletin Board. Here you can keep handy documents that you frequently access (or would like to access on all devices), such as your to-do list, work schedule or phone lists. The possibilities are endless.
5. Staff Manuals & Hosting Hospital Documents Want to wow your team? Instead of using a shared drive, put all of our hospital materials on a shared Evernote account. Here you can host manuals, schedules, calculators, and more. I’ve been building hospital manuals including this awesome (if I do say so myself) nurse drug book in Evernote. I used Evernote to create a unique URL that I then gave to the staff and bookmarked on all hospital web browsers.
Its one of my favorite examples of what I call “low-tech, high-tech” (utilizing a digital, and often free, tool in a simple, elegant way) – in this case, a really functional way to leverage Evernote’s unique shareablility.
Now your manuals are centrally changeable but always out there in view-only format to anyone you give the unique web address.
6. Appointment Tracking, Patient Notes, Photos The available practice management software isn’t ideal for tracking patients you have seen previously. As a workaround, I scan in my daily to-do list at the end of each day or in a pile from the week. This is then searchable so I can see who I saw and on what day.
If you write the problem or diagnosis on your list, you can quickly find the names of every feline you’ve treated with a urethral obstruction, for example since Evernote has the powerful capability to search text within photos and PDF files.
In the same notebook, I also keep notes on patients I see outside of my primary job (think record keeping on family/friend pets) and photos of patients.
7. Meeting and Business Card Capturing If you have lots of meetings in your life, create a notebook to store all of your important notes. Whenever I have a meeting, I start a note named after the meeting and add the important bullet points to jog my memory.
If any of the notes have attached to-do lists, you can link your to-do list items to the associated meeting note.
Similarly, I scan business cards and store them in my Networking Notebook. If I go to a conference and accumulate lots of new business cards, I scan them as one big pile and name them after the conference. This helps me know when and where I met the individuals and often jogs my memory on our discussion.
Since Evernote makes photos fully searchable, you’ll never have a hard time recalling your notes or contacts.
8. Quick Reference Notes Have favorite drug protocols, client communication templates, treatment plans, hospital checklists, or other patient templates such as discharge instructions?
Evernote is the perfect way to store this in free text for copy/paste ease when working in your practice management software.
9. Audio Recordings Using Evernote’s superb note-importing flexibility, you can create notes using audio recordings. I frequently make recordings of lectures, phone calls (not in a creepy way, with permission), or meetings if I need to pull out important points or reference it later.
This function is very useful for all those times that you are highway driving and need to record a brilliant idea (see number 3) without risking an accident.
10. Article Writing & Draft Sharing Do you lecture, write, or teach? Evernote has built in functionality to help with this.
I often use it to free-type my first draft if I’m on my mobile device and don’t have MS Word. I also like to keep all the notes/ideas on the topic at the bottom of my note for easy access with link-outs to other Evernote documents I have saved.
But what I really love is the ability to format my articles in draft view to share with others via the unique note URL for final review. If you do any form of blogging, this is something you should try.
11. CE & License Storage
Want to always have your veterinary license, state numbers, DEA numbers or other important professional documents at the tip of your fingers? Just scan them into Evernote.
I also scan all of my CE certificates into the same notebook for simple access.
12. Travel Planning If you do any amount of traveling, Evernote is the perfect spot to store flight information, hotel confirmations, car rental info, or lists of your itinerary. I make these notebooks offline notebooks on my tablet and phone so I have access even when I’m traveling without internet access (more on this in Part 3).
Bonus: Never lose your car. When I leave for the trip, I also snap a photo of parking garage floor, level, etc and store it here.
13. Sensitive Data and Password Lists Passwords, logins, email accounts abound in most of our lives. It’s become a major annoyance to all but the Amish.
I have a notebook that stores all of my information. I’ve even started storing my credit card numbers here for easy online ordering.
Worried about security? Don’t be. Set up Evernote two-step verification and use other protective measures (don’t actually type the password in, encrypt the notes, set up device pin lock, and have a serious password).
14. Client Handouts Frequently searching high and low for a copy of disease handouts for owners? What about pointing owners to handouts online written by people you don’t know or trust?
What if you created these on your own in Evernote as a beautiful and shareable document? As an incentive to collect client email addresses, you wow them by emailing the unique link to their customized client handout or a specific disease handout. Prepare to be the talk of the town.
15. Offline Reading & Article Clipping There’s a lot of digital content out there these days. Often you come across interesting articles in magazines, online or via tweets but you can’t read them at the moment. Now I just clip them into a Notebook called “To Read” and it is automatically synced to all devices, including my favorite reading device: my tablet. Now it’s waiting there for you in a beautiful display and an offline format whenever you have some down time.
Have a great way you use Evernote in practice? Share it in the comments below! Stay tuned for next week’s Part 3, a post on all the Evernote tips and tricks you’ll ever need!
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.