4 mobile apps to make life more manageable

As a busy healthcare professional, you excel at keeping your team accountable to ensure top-notch business performance and patient care. But when it comes to managing a high-stakes career alongside a household or family life, even small shortcuts can go a long way in making your days run smoothly.

Mobile technology is not a panacea to avoiding wasted time, miscommunication and frustration, but we already know from its diverse applications in healthcare--enough to warrant its own newsletter--that mobile apps can be a valuable tool in making sure the right things get done at the right time with the right information.

Following are a few apps that I've found nearly indispensable in keeping me sane and organized as a self-employed mother of two:

Evernote. I've already sung my praises of Evernote more than once in FiercePracticeManagement. This free tool offers a number of features, but my favorite is the Web clipper, which allows you to save a URL, along with any notes you decide to include, from any Internet-enabled device, and then access it from the same or any other device when you want it. It's a useful tool, for example, to archive content you want to share later on your social media feeds or to keep your favorite Fierce content handy.

My most impressive use of Evernote so far, however, was during a breakout session at the Medical Group Management Association annual conference. Typically during these sessions, I take hand-written notes and sometimes an audio recording. But with the Evernote application on my tablet, I was able to audio record the session and type key quotes and bits of information right into the same "note" simultaneously. For any research I did on the topic after the fact, I could add URLs or any other ideas to the same note as well.

And making Evernote an even more convenient tool for the medical community, you can now use Skitch to annotate PDF files, such as journal articles stored in your account, iMedicalApps reported, with an instructional video included. "I wouldn't be surprised to see Dropbox follow suit within the next few months with similar PDF annotation functionality of its own," added the publication's Editor- in-Chief Iltifat Husain, M.D.

However, keep in mind that any web-based storage tool is vulnerable to security threats, and Evernote is no exception, as FierceEnterpriseCommunications recently reported. Use these services for storage of nonsensitive information only.

Dropbox. Speaking of Dropbox, I finally started using its system to back up and access my files from multiple locations when I replaced my computer a few weeks ago. Until then, I'd been in the habit of emailing myself every important document, from interview transcripts to article drafts, multiple times before I submitted the finished product, just to ensure my computer didn't eat all my hard work. Now I just save whatever I'm working on directly to Dropbox and can access it from any of my devices. There are other neat sharing functions I haven't even started using yet, but already this tool has saved me time and helped remove the clutter from my inbox.

As with Evernote, there are security caveats for using Dropbox. To explain how to use Dropbox responsibly, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine issued the following statement to its employees:

"Dropbox and other cloud based computing services are extremely convenient. It is a great way to have access to your personal data. The important thing to remember is Dropbox is not for sensitive data and it does not meet HIPAA requirements. Do not store or share sensitive data in Dropbox or any other cloud computing service. There is NO prohibition on the storage of non-sensitive or public data on third party hosting services… . All due care must be taken to ensure sensitive information is not stored in Dropbox, either accidentally or on purpose."

Cozi Calendar. My children are only 5 and 6, but already it seems it would be money well spent to hire them each a personal secretary. The next, best (free!) thing, however, is the Cozi Family Calendar. While it takes some effort to set up events and recurring appointments in yet another place, you put in only the information that is relevant to family (or possibly business team) members, without linking others to your entire personal calendar.

To me, it takes a lot of the 'noise' out of family time management, highlighting the anomalies to a typical workweek, such as when I need my husband to attend a school function during the business day or make sure he's home with the kids when I have a meeting in the evening. Another nice feature is that it allows you to notify other family members when you actually show up to an appointment, so they know everyone is where they belong. A babysitter or other caretaker could easily be connected to this shared calendar as well.

Voice Memos. I'm a list maker and sticky note fanatic. But like a lot of people, I come up with some of my best ideas while driving or running around to get everyone ready for the day. Regardless of where I am, I can speak faster than I can type or find a clean piece of paper and a pen. With one hand, I can open the voice memo app that came with my smartphone and record my thoughts exactly as they're forming in my multitasking mind. If this is information I need to share in a hurry, one more touch allows me to send the audio file via text or email.

Got any mobile sanity-savers to add to the list? Please let us know in the comments! - Deb (@PracticeMgt)

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