Looking for an all-in-one typewriter/word processor/printer for office
August 24, 2017 12:58 PM   Subscribe

I'm a doctor in an office that still uses paper charts. My handwriting is horrible and, despite my pleas, we won't be converting to an electronic record until after the older partners retire. I'm looking for a device on which I can type and quickly print text that can be taped into the paper chart, almost like a label maker or old-school word processor. Ideally, it would print on a 8.5" x 2" strip of regular paper (not a plastic label), but full pages would be ok too. Does anyone have suggestions for me? Thanks!
posted by Fritzle to Technology (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't think what you want exists. You'd probably be better off with a very small laptop or a tablet+keyboard combo plus the printer of your choice.

My GP goes from patient to patient with a laptop, presumably typing directly into his records system, but you could do the same thing and just print the files when you have an opportunity.
posted by uberchet at 1:10 PM on August 24, 2017

How are the charts held together? The ones I knew had two pronged clips at the top so if you printed onto regular paper, you just used a hole punch and inserted the full page. It makes the files fatter but hopefully that is not your problem.
posted by metahawk at 1:55 PM on August 24, 2017

At our clinic we use Surface Pro tablets which we carry in and out of the exam rooms with us. We type into our EHR (which I hate anyway) but a lot of the residents make notes about their agenda for the visit ahead of time in Word and then copy/paste the info into the electronic note. If you have a wireless printer that's available to you I'd just set up a Word template so you can type in a nice formatted note that you then print [on progress note paper if relevant], sign, and stick into the chart on your way to see the next patient. If you do this make sure you get a good keyboard for your tablet.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 2:34 PM on August 24, 2017

Assuming you're looking for something still supported by its manufacturer, if you aren't simply digging up an actual used typewriter: maybe some type of barcode printer, of the sort used to label packages in the course of shipping? Searching for "barcode printer keyboard" returns a bunch of images of what appear to be modern printers with keyboards attached which perhaps can be set up to let you just type in any arbitrary text you want to.
posted by XMLicious at 3:31 PM on August 24, 2017

The closest thing that I can think about would be getting the Dragon Speech To Text software + a laptop + printer (and maybe + a microphone). You ought to be able to find a very small printer and feed it with paper that's a smaller size than 8.5x11. I know that Dragon is used by some electronic medical records software, but I've also hear that it can be a royal pain in the ass because it doesn't distinguish very between medical terms that sound similar, if it knows the medical terms at all.

You can experiment with voice-to-text with most any device these days. It's the print capability that's trickier.

OTOH, a doctor I know used a little Sony voice recorder and a transcription service for some chart notes and letters. These were mostly things he did at the end of the day, rather than during the appointment. The staff attached the recorder to a computer in the office, and the transcription company scooped up the recordings in the night. They were returned within about 48 hours in a computer file which the staff could print (and file, ugh). Pretty much everything had to be proofread, but not every correction had to be corrected in the computer and reprinted.
posted by SemiSalt at 4:03 PM on August 24, 2017

What you're describing sounds borderline for meeting best practice in terms of secure medical records - stuff taped on to paper is liable to fall off, and then you have no medical record and it's on you. You're better off printing it off on standard paper, or practice explaining your tape-the-ribbon process to your indemnity insurer.
posted by chiquitita at 5:08 PM on August 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Honestly it might be easiest to just improve your penmanship. I bet an hour a day of practice for a week would yield solid results, and as a bonus you'd then have a useful skill! Plus, it's free.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:24 PM on August 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm not OP, but "how about write better" sure seems like the sort of thing that would make me roll my eyes if I were. I suspect it's more helpful to take it as read that OP isn't interested in that, and is looking specifically for a keyboard solution.
posted by uberchet at 7:22 PM on August 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

Doc-forced-into-an-EHR here, asking why it's preferable to have the 8.5x2 format? Is this for progress notes? Notes to yourself? Telephone consults? If you abandon wanting that format then there are a myriad of tablet/laptop + printer options out there!
posted by eglenner at 9:12 PM on August 24, 2017

When I worked in a law office where electronic anything was anathema, Avery labels were my friends. You'll need a computer with word processing software and a printer, but Avery makes templates. (I hear you can download these templates online, but they've come preloaded in every version of Microsoft Word I've ever used.) For your purposes the 2 x 4 or 5.5 x 8.5 sizes might work, although they also make whole printable 8.5 x 11 sheets if you don't mind cutting out your peel n'stick section.
posted by Fish, fish, are you doing your duty? at 10:08 PM on August 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

I realized that I forgot to mention: if you do end up going with an old typewriter or word processor the approximately-two-inch-wide paper spools from printing calculators could be useful for producing those 8.5" x 2" strips. I know I used at least one electromechanical typewriter with adjustable margins which could be narrowed down to 2".
posted by XMLicious at 12:27 AM on August 25, 2017

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