Friday, October 9, 2009

Real-life impression of OSCAR

My impression of OSCAR is that it has been mostly great. Because it is the first installation in Alberta, there is essentially no billing or lab component to it at the present time.

This means that I'm really only using just under half of OSCAR's real capabilities.

Of those capabilities, there are many great things, and many things that require further evolution.

But the simple act of typing out my patient notes at the bedside works perfectly. I use a Macbook Air, which is tiny and non-intrusive between me and my patient. I also use a program called "text expander" ( to make notes of "block text" when I need to with the stroke of a couple of keys.

This works surprisingly well and is very efficient.

The ability to log in from home on my computer or iPhone is also a very nice feature.

The Rx creation tool is easily the best in the industry, and I can generate long lists of Rx's at least as fast as pen and paper - probably even faster and more accurate. The Rx writing tool is, however, a little less flexible than I'd like - as topical/intrasasal/intravaginal/per rectal methods of applying various meds are not straightforward to input. You have to type these directions in free text.

You can, however, save various "Free text" Rx's directly as "saved Rx's", which saves a lot of time.

The billing and lab components are being worked on as we speak - should have something ready to go by the end of the year.

We're also making OSCAR look a lot more "modern" with a consistent workflow and logic system between pages, as is the norm in many modern applications. Currently, OSCAR looks very "retro DOS" on the screen. Aart (our developer guy) has been able to modify OSCAR screens to look very modern and sleek - much like programs you see for the Mac.

THIS is the true value of open source. Once we've implemented all of this, we're going to present it to the world and make it available to all - should they find it a good thing. We hope that it will be viewed upon with favour by Jay and Dr. Chan.

The booking system for OSCAR is among the worst in the industry and my nurses *****HATE***** it. They insist on continuing to use paper to book patients...and then transcribing the appointments to the OSCAR schedule screen. Some MOA's have stated that they like the OSCAR scheduling screen - but I suspect that they work for walk-in clinics that don't really care who is booked where. Each of our patients are carefully considered in terms of where they are booked - for example, Margaret - a nice chatty 94 year old - always comes with a list of 20-30 concerns.....and can never be booked sequentially with Tom - a tortured father with a true Narcissistic personality disorder.

We are going to make changes to the Scheduling screen a very high priority - perhaps even higher than the Alberta Billing section.

Once we figure out how to do this (using the new Google Web Toolkit), I believe that OSCAR will be eventually bulletproof.

The next month is going to be very exciting for OSCAR.