Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 145 / OCTOBER 1992 / PAGE 106

Doctor Schueler's Home Medical Advisor 2.0. (medical/health software) (Evaluation)
by Sherry Roberts

As "Saturday Night Live" character Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say, "It's always something." And that's why Doctor Schueler's Home Medical Advisor 2.0 is a welcome addition to the family medical library.

Pixel Perfect's Home Medical Advisor is a reference that you install on your computer and can use faster than you can say ZollingerEllison Syndrome (a rare glandular abnormality that predisposes patients to peptic ulcers). It's written by Dr. Stephen J. Schueler, chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, Florida.

The beauty of Home Medical Advisor is that Dr. Schueler, an advocate of preventive medicine and patient education, offers an enormous amount of medical information in easy-to-understand terms., And you don't have to be a computer whiz to get to that valuable information. You navigate the program with simple keyboard or mouse commands.

Any parent who makes amateur medical judgments--When is a cut deep enough, a fever high enough, a twisted ankle injured enough to merit a visit to the doctor?--will find Home Medical Advisor a handy resource.

For new parents dealing with the bewildering world of childhood diseases, illnesses, and injuries, it offers stiff competition to the medical sections of Dr. Benjamin Spock's renowned reference book.

Home Medical Advisor is constructed around six linked files: Symptom, Disease, Injury, Poison, Drug, and Test. Each can be accessed by clicking (with a heart-shaped cursor) in the main menu or by clicking on menu buttons that run along the bottom of the screen.

Say you can't remember which pain reliever--acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen--is appropriate to administer to a 12-year-old soccer player with a swollen ankle. You can consult the Drug file and find more than 800 prescription and nonprescription drug references as well as their indications, side effects, and interactions with other drugs.

Or let's say that all you have to work with is a symptom, such as ear pain. In the Symptom file, a series of questions helps you analyze the problem and make one of 450 diagnoses. The Symptom file includes more than 600 color VGA illustrations; many are anatomical and can help you localize exactly where it hurts.

Once you've arrived at a diagnosis, you can learn a great deal about your disease or injury. The Disease file gives detailed information about the signs, symptoms, evaluation, and treatment of more than 450 diseases. The Injury file is a guide to more than 130 different injuries, from a sprained ankle to a gunshot wound.

The Poison file spotlights more than 500 common household substances and products and tells you what to do if ingestion of any of them occurs. The Test file covers more than 125 of the most frequently performed medical tests and is a great way for you to become an informed patient before undergoing any medical testing. Information from any of the files can be outputted to dot-matrix or HP Loser Jet printers.

A seventh file, a Referral file, is available upon registration of your software; it provides a listing of board-certified specialists in your state, making it easier for you to choose a doctor.

Home Medical Advisor is a great crowd pleaser; it leaves you wanting more. Adding some capability for the user to enter personal medical history, such as the last time you had a tetanus shot, would be a real help. The manual includes a glossary and instructions for basic procedures such as taking a temperature, but these deserve a spot in the program.

In addition, I found myself wishing for illustrations in the Disease and Injury files. The graphics are well done, but too often illustration opportunities are wasted on mere head shots of fictitious physicians.

If you have a monochrome VGA monitor, you'll have trouble distinguishing between text and important special references called hot keys, which are programmed to appear in red. If AIt-X, which according to the documentation gives you access to the Drug file, doesn't work in your copy, try AIt-R, which retrieved the Drug file in my review copy of the program.

The greatest disappointment in Home Medical Advisor was the number of grammatical errors, punctuation problems, and typos in both the software and the documentation. Let's hope the good doctor asks a professional writer to diagnose these easily fixed problems in future updates.

If the intent of Home Medical Advisor is to educate and nurture patients, then it certainly succeeds. Its most powerful feature is cross-referencing. Every entry is littered with hot keys,. which when clicked on lead you through catacombs of related information. You can journey tirelessly through--and even become addicted to--all the data included in Home Medical Advisor.

Dr. Schueler's Home Medical Advisor 2.0 is just what the doctor ordered, for everyone from new mothers and fathers to the parents of young athletes to elderly users facing increasing health problems.