Jump to content

(Archived) What's the best way for medical professionals, students, and others to utilize mobile Evernote?

Recommended Posts

Hello EN Community,

(Sorry this post is so long and detailed)

I am new to EN and I therefore have many questions. I've found many answers to individual questions in the forums, but I am having a hard time piecing all of the info together so I can determine how to setup the optimal EN ecosystem for my purposes. I have ascertained from the forums that it’s best to figure out as much strategy as possible before I purchase hardware/software and dive head-first into EN, or else I may have many regrets and may have to go back and redo a bunch of work as well. So I’m here for a ton of advice across the board.

My questions involve the interaction between all of these areas:

1. Scanning in/uploading lecture notes/documents

2. Organizing them into a highly searchable database

3. Quickly accessing this database (primarily via a tablet device)

4. Quickly adding in new notes (preferably a mix of handwritten/recorded notes via tablet)

First some background: I’m a pharmacy student who is about to complete years-worth of college classes this May and embark on rotations this August. These rotations will be in a hospital setting and will require me to take my knowledge and quickly apply it on the go (such as quickly answering drug info/therapy questions during rounds with the medical team), as well as learn many new things (and hopefully document them via notes, recordings, etc). So my goal is to have technology and EN on my side during this whole, demanding process.

Here’s an example of my perfect hypothetical situation involving EN: While rounding, the doctors are discussing a patient’s case. Before we left for rounds I quickly reviewed the cases, used my tablet to browse relevant lecture notes and medical resources, and wrote some basic notes to myself. While making the rounds I have medical reference apps, a couple relevant lecture note sets, searchable PDFs (such as treatment guidelines) open in the background and I am able to seamlessly switch between them and note taking, while possibly even recording the team’s discussion. If they turn to me with a drug info question, I have hopefully been able to stay a step ahead of them and have either looked up the relevant info or am able to do so and provide an answer in a timely manner. Of course, all while jotting down notes in EN. After rounds I am able to use EN, Skitch, etc. to compile all of this into a note that I can review/edit later, as well as search my notebooks for more in-depth follow-up drug info answers for my preceptor.

This may seem out of reach, but I want to find a way to get as close to obtaining it as possible, and I promise you that there are many medical and business professionals who are looking to EN for a slight variation of the same purposes. I’m also confident that there are medical/professional EN users who have iPads or Android tablets and are able to offer advice on their personal strategy to accomplish this. So please, do share your experiences with the EN community!

#1 & 2: Uploading/Organizing: During the next few months before I start rotations I want to become a premium member and take all of the relevant lecture notes from the past few years and scan/upload them into EN into a well-organized and VERY SEARCHABLE database. My strategy at the moment to accomplish this is to purchase a Fujitsu Scansnap scanner (I’m leaning toward the s1500 or s1300i). Most of my notes are printed out PDF/Word/Powerpoint documents that have been marked up with multicolored handwritten notes and highlighting. I also have some digital searchable and nonsearchable PDFs, many with sticky-note comments on them, but preserving these sticky-notes is not as important as the handwritten notes.

So for this uploading/organizing goal I want advice on how to best accomplish this feat in a manner where the database is extremely easy to search, ideally offline using a tablet device. My questions are: Is Scansnap the way to go? Should I upload everything directly to EN as searchable PDFs, JPEGs, or something else? (I know EN uses different OCR strategies for text vs. handwriting) Should I use Scansnap’s software to OCR the documents first and then move them to EN? Since the Scansnap s1500 comes with Adobe Acrobat (Version 9 Standard, I believe), and the cheaper s1300i doesn't, is there a reason I should spend the extra cash (think starving college student) in order to get Acrobat for my purposes? I also want to make these notebooks shareable with some classmates, but I guess that’s a whole different discussion.

#3 & 4: Accessing notes: I plan to purchase a tablet for my rotations. This is where the bulk of my questions and uncertainty lies. Ideally I want this device to serve three main functions: 1) Be a powerful mobile drug/medical information database. 2) Be an excellent tool for quickly accessing lecture notes and saved documents on the go. 3) Be a great tool for taking quick handwritten/recorded notes while multitasking on the go. I also will have occasional access to desktop/laptop computers for more in-depth research and document creation, but possibly not very often until I get home in the evenings. Also, I should have decent WiFi coverage, but I'm not taking this for granted, and the more I can store offline, the better.

At this time I am leaning toward a small Android tablet over the iPad Mini (any full-sized tablet is too large to be practical), but I am very unsure. The most intriguing device is the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 that is scheduled to be released at Mobile World Congress at the end of this month. It’s basically a smaller Galaxy Note 10.1, so for the purposes of this discussion in regards to apps and compatibility, just think of it as Galaxy Note 10.1 vs iPad. The main reason I’m leaning toward the Droid is the hardware, mainly the pressure-sensitive stylus. But also it has expandable storage (mini SD card), is a little cheaper and has some cool multitasking features such as split-screen apps. But I have many concerns about Droid tablets mainly just because of the app selection. The iPad is miles ahead in this arena, but the problem is the awful lack of practicality for quickly handwriting notes on a capacitive screen (think finger-painting) and limited storage unless you pay tons of money. FYI, I also have an iPhone, which I love (as a phone, but it’s not practical for these demands) and have never owned an Android product.

Taking into account that the Apple is far superior to Android when it come to drug/medical info apps (but I believe I can get by with the growing Android medical app selection, plus utilizing my iPhone if I have to), which tablet should I buy from an Evernote perspective? If the iPad had a pressure-sensitive stylus it would be a no-brainer, but I just have zero confidence in its ability to replace paper and pen for efficient note taking; maybe I’m overly skeptical of the iPad's multitasking and note-taking ability. However, I’m also skeptical that the Android market has apps available (or will by August) that utilize its superior content creation hardware (pressure-sensitive stylus) to do things like fully replace paper and pen while multitasking with great medical resources and incorporating it all into a database like EN.

I know I've asked a ton, and I know that some of these individual topics have been addressed elsewhere, but please provide your best recommendation for how I can setup the optimal EN ecosystem for my for all of my purposes. Keep in mind that the uploading/organizing stage should ideally take place soon, but I don't need to purchase a tablet until mid-late summer. I know many others who are interested in doing the exact same thing. Thanks!

*Edit: Maybe this is a good option? Any thoughts? Pressure sensitivity for Penultimate or Evernote iPad app to utilize this please!!!

*Another edit: I guess maybe pressure sensitivity isn't as important for note-taking as having a true digitizer stylus. That's probably what makes writing with the Galaxy s-pen so good, the fact that's its a digitizer, not the pressure sensitivity...

Related links:

Link to comment

I use an android tablet with a digitizer stylus (Thinkpad tablet) and my husband uses the Samsung galaxy note 10.1. For handwritten notes or to mark up pdfs, I use a great app called LectureNotes and then send the notes as image files or as pdfs to Evernote for permanent storage. LectureNotes has an add-on app called LectureRecordings to coordinate with handwritten notes.

In terms of organizing my mobile EN database, I make my WORK notebook an offline notebook (I'm a premium user) but I keep an ARCHIVE notebook that is not offline so that I don't eat up all the memory space on my tablet and phone. I use an app called Handy Scanner to take pictures of receipts or whiteboard screens etc with my android phone or tablet and convert the image to PDF before sending to EN. Very handy when I'm on the road and I don't have time to write something down.

One thing to note is that EN does not currently allow storage of offline notebooks to the external SD card, so if you want to make use of the additional storage available on an android tablet, you'll need to use something other than EN or choose what to carry with you and what to leave on the cloud or on your home computer. (Dropbox works well and Lecturenotes allows you to save your notebooks to the external SD.)

Our teenagers are Apple fans, of course, and love their iPhones but for productivity, the Samsung N10.1 with the stylus is hard to beat. That said, I have heard good things from a colleague about the ipad stylus you listed, so that may be a decent alternative if the ipad is more useful to you.

Link to comment

Sometimes pen and paper are simply the best for lecture notes.... - it worked for me! ;)

Yes, worked for me too. That is why I love the LectureNotes app...it is the closet to pen/paper feel of all the writing apps I've tried.

Link to comment

Sometimes pen and paper are simply the best for lecture notes.... - it worked for me! ;)

Yes, pen and paper are great when you're sitting in a lecture; I've used them throughout college to take notes, but while I'm walking around the hospital I don't want to be fumbling with a separate paper notepad and electronic tablet. I will definitely be using the tablet as a quick mobile drug information database (There are some of great apps for this. I have a subscription to one called Lexicomp), so I would love to have the ability to multitask and take notes on the same device that I'll be using to look up information.

Link to comment

Well, speaking as a surgeon who also does a lot of walking around the hospital, have you looked at those iPad cases that have the iPad on one side and a real paper notepad on the other, like a little folio case?


I do use a note-taking app though, and as has been posted elsewhere, I'm currently using Notability, as I do not want all my scribbles, drawings to explain things to patients, or doodlings, to be automatically synced to Evernote - which is what happens with the new version of Penultimate.  I've been a PU user since it first came out.  And no doubt will change back once they bring in the ability for selective sync on a note-by-note basis.  And with the ability to select the target notebook in Evernote for those PU notes that you DO want to sync.  Unfortunately, my previous version of PU got trashed, and given that it's an .IPA file which is linked to my iTunes account, I can't just get a copy from somebody else to backgrade with.  So I've gone to Notability - for now.


But I still use paper and pen a lot.... ;)

Link to comment

In regards to the Android LectureNotes app, iPad Penultimate, and Notability, how responsive are they when writing notes? Do they lag behind and hinder your ability to take very hurried notes? How easy is it for you to switch between the note-taking app and other open apps without losing your place in the note or being slowed down? Are you able to quickly clip or paste from other apps into the open notes? How well does EN's OCR read the notes written on these apps? And for the iPad apps, what stylus do you use or recommend for the fastest, most precise note-taking? Does this stylus/app/iPad combo do a sufficient enough job to virtually replace pen and paper while on the go?

I am also curious if someone could give me a loose range of approximately how much storage space a fairly extensive EN library of mostly PDFs would take up. I know this will vary considerably, but are we talking about something on the order of 5GB or 80GB? As you know, the iPad storage space is limited and not expandable at all, so buying one with a large enough hard drive is important.

Link to comment


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...