There are some things that appear impossible to retain in ‘the fleshy tablets of
For me, that includes the map of dermatomes on the arms and legs.
After 20 years, I still have to look them up each time.
Safe and effective patient care can be improved by timely access to decision
support and communication tools. Our IT systems can have an important role, and
an Intranet operating in your practice is one way to make information
available. (An Intranet is a mini version of the interent, usually available
only within an
Building an Intranet
There are a number of free services that facilitate the setting up of a practice
The easist way for Windows users to share resources is to place documents in a
nominated ‘Shared’ directory on one of the computers. Other computers in the
surgery can navigate to that directory using Windows explorer, and bookmark it
for easier finding later using Tools > Map Network Drive.
For more sophisticated features, you may like to install the apache web server
on your Windows computer.
It comes pre-installed and ready to run on MacOSX.
With Apache installed, you can add a Content Manager System, such as that used
by Wikipedia (‘wikimedia’ – used at Goonellebah Medical Centre) or Mambo, which
allow all users to add and update documents
If you don’t want to fiddle with your own system, Google now provides a free
service called ‘Google Apps for your Domain’. <http://www.google.com/a/>
This is not strictly an Intranet, as it is stored on the Googleservers, but is
an excellent way to provide email addresses, news services, and a shared
calendar for your staff, which can be accessed from home as well as work. It
also provides the ability to collaborate on documents or spreadsheets. The
‘start’ page can be customised with a number of different ‘widgets’, including
ones that point to information stored elsewhere on the web and also to
information stored on your local network. You can use your own domain name, or
order one through Google. We use Google Apps for our Intranet homepage and you
can view it at <http://start.alstonvilleclinic.com.au>
Resources to place in your Intranet
There are many textbooks and guidelines (such as the Australian Medicines
Handbook and Therapeutic Guidlelines) that are available in formats which are
ideal for accessing via an Intranet, once the appropriate licensing fees are
paid. This makes it easy to update – do it once on one computer, and its
immediately available everywhere.
Your Intranet can also point users to resources available elsewhere on the web,
such as NSW Health’s comprehensive Clinical Information Access Program
<http://www.ciap.health.nsw.gov.au>, MSD’s site for GPs
<http://www.msd4gps.com.au>, or eMedicine <http://emedicine.com>,
and the NRDGPN Health Services Directory <http://services.nrdgp.org>
Dale Beatty is the practice manager at the Hawkins Medical Clinic at Mt Gambier.
They have a comprehensive intranet built up over 10 years. He points out that if
you use Excel or Word documents with the auto republish function turned on,
staff just have to update the document with new information and this
automatically updates the html file on the intranet site.
This is some of the information they keep in this way – Telephone numbers,
Policy and procedure manual for the practice, rosters, clinical guidelines, fee
lists for the practice, staff notices, lists of reports requested by third
parties in alphabetic order, lists of reports completed in alphabetic order (for
me, this would be a much shorter list), OH&S regulation link, details of all
correspondence sent each day from the practice, documented system problems and
action taken, CPR instructions, white pages link, mandatory reporting
guidelines, GP numbers – lists of provider, prescriber, RACGP and ACRRM QA nos,
Indemnity membership no and policy no.
Phew. We’ve got some catching up to do.
Patient education handouts, and commonly used forms, are also useful to keep on
an Intranet. Saves rummaging through desks and wandering around the surgery
saying “have you seen………”
And, of course, a map of the dermatomes.