They say, "Clothes make the man."
By extension, software makes the computer. Having a good armamentarium of software
can turn your office computer from a paperweight into a valuable piece of
This month, I'll discuss examples of
software that can really benefit you and your practice.
Word processing possibilities
Most of you already have office management
(OM) systems � in fact, that's probably why you bought an office computer in
the first place. Once you have an OM system, the next most valuable application
you should have is a word processor.
It will help you write elegant letters and
perform such tasks as:
� Mail-merge manager.Write a template letter and merge it with your
patient database for a focused and personal direct marketing venture.
� Desktop publishing. Create in-office documents, such as patient
brochures, history and exam forms and patient education materials.
� HTML editor. Any good word processor can double as an HTML editor for creating and
publishing Web pages. Software programs made exclusively for HTML editing are a
better choice, but in a crunch, word processors are a good alternative.
� Outlining and flow-charting. Your word processor can act as a great substitution
for the real thing.
I recommend either Microsoft's Word or
Corel's WordPerfect for word processing. These are the most popular programs and
have many features and good technical support.
All office computers should have a good
spreadsheet program. Use preprogrammed template spreadsheets, or design your
Use spreadsheets, which you can make by
plugging in known numbers, for tasks such as tallies for the week, comparisons
My software choices for spreadsheets are
Microsoft's Excel and Corel's Quatro-Pro. They're feature-packed and easy to
Other applications to consider
The following applications aren't necessary,
but they're certainly useful:
This small shareware program is useful for creating and unzipping archives. If
you do any type of file downloads from the Internet, this is a "must
� Backing up. You should backup your data regularly. A good program will make this
This category includes e-mail, Web-browsers, file transfer protocol (ftp),
chatting and messaging software.
Banking and checkbook applications are by far the best ways to manage your
office accounts. Quicken, Quickbooks, Microsoft Money and Peachtree are
examples of banking software available today.
Sometimes it's easier to fax directly from your computer. WinFax Pro is the
most popular and easiest application available.
If you do any type of in-house documents or Web-publishing projects, you'll
want a good graphics program to help you manage your pictures.
This is just a short laundry list of software
that can enable your office computer to perform useful tasks. You'll discover
many other applications to help you accomplish your goals easier and faster.
A personal note
This is my last column as editor of
Cybercare. I've immensely enjoyed the association I've had for the last 2 years
with OM, in particular with editors Larisa Hubbs, Art Epstein and Karen
Rodemich � to all of whom I owe a debt of gratitude.
Your support as readers has been keenly felt
in your e-mails and at meetings, and for that I'm deeply grateful. Technology
is ever-changing and I hope to continue as your resource to this exciting
As always, I can be reached at:
Dr. Diecidue practices in Stroudsburg, Pa.
He's president of Mountain Computer Systems, a producer of software and
solutions for optometrists.