SCOUG OS/2 For You - January 1998
Dr. Tom Molloy Learns To Program
A veterinarian with an office to run,
he chooses OS/2 and DBExpert
CINCINNATI -- I'm impressed when a doctor of any of the medical sciences takes the time to learn about computers. There's a whole mind-shift you have to go through to understand how to get data into a box, massage it until it feels good, and bounce it back in a usable form. And with patients to treat and medical journals to read and absorb, when would you have the time?
So talking with Dr. Tom Molloy was a real pleasure. Here's a guy who spent four years in undergraduate study, four more in professional study (all at Ohio State), and still has space upstairs to pack in enough information to program a computer. I take that back. A whole bunch of computers. He's got a 10-station network running in his office, and he writes all the application software himself.
A parrot at 10, a ferret at 10:15
Veterinarians have it rough. They have so much more to memorize.
People are simple. If you break your elbow, you go to a bone doctor. For your teeth, you go to a dentist. And for an eye condition, you go to an eye doctor. Each is a specialist in one part of the human body.
But a veterinarian has to know it all, and for lots of different kinds of bodies. Fleas? The treatments are different for different animals. Surgery? Well, everything is in there, but it sure isn't in the same place.
So when Dr. Tom first sat down to write his applications, he wanted a programming tool that wasn't too difficult. And yet, he needed one that could get the job done.
Choosing is easy when there's only one left
"At first I hired a programmer to write some DBase programs. It wasn't much, really, just a vaccination reminder system. Then I switched to Paradox and wrote the programs myself for quite a while, but Paradox kept trashing the files," says Dr. Molloy. "And I bought and tried the text-based RBase For OS/2, but didn't like it. Besides, they never shipped the graphical version." Dr. Molloy now uses DBExpert.
"I just finished adding sonogram bitmap support to the software," he says. "It took only two hours to put it in, and now I can view a patient's sonogram from any station on the network."
Tried it, liked it
Let's back up for a moment. An OS/2 ad in Newsweek first caught the good doctor's attention, and he bought and installed OS/2 version 2.0. "I was really disillusioned with Paradox at the time. There still wasn't a Windows version, and Windows itself wasn't on schedule for its next release, so I thought I'd try OS/2. The first application I installed was Relish, which I bought because it was the first OS/2 program I found and I wanted to start using the operating system for something. I loved them both. There was so much more there than with Windows." From then on, Dr. Molloy ran his Paradox code in an OS/2 DOS session.
Actually, when Borland finally released Paradox for Windows, the doctor did give it a brief fling. "It was awful," he said. "It pushed me even more to OS/2. I haven't used Windows now in quite a long, long time."
When you must give a shot, who holds the skunk?
"So what kinds of animals do you treat?" I inquire. "Anything strange, like anacondas, or piranha?"
"Horses and parrots. Dogs and cats. Once in a while a pet skunk or pet wolf," he replies. "Occasionally I'll get a call on a wild animal, like a deer or a raccoon."
Pet wolf? And you thought Californian's were strange.
The doctor now uses OS/2 and DBExpert to keep his office humming. His DBExpert applications do his Accounts Receivable, his Billing, and control all medical (patient/client) records. "It's a paperless office," he says rather matter-of-factly.
He has workstations in each of his four examination rooms, and they're all networked for entering weight history, vaccine history, notes, charges and memos. His pharmacy and reception desk are also on the network, for a total of 10 stations. He had LAN Server at one time, but removed it when Warp Connect came out and now runs peer-to-peer with Warp 4. All of that original Paradox code is gone; for his database needs, he does everything now with DBExpert.
"I'm not really a programmer," says Dr. Tom. "I do write all the programs, but with DBExpert it isn't that difficult. Since Sundial took over the program and started making changes to it, it's more stable, faster and more functional than it used to be. I'm very happy."
Of course, DBExpert doesn't do quite everything he needs. The fine doctor also continues to use a collection of OS/2 products (which, he'll tell you, still includes Relish), but DBExpert is the real work-horse of the bunch.
A no-cost offer
Dr. Molloy wants to spread his hard work around, and has plans to supply his DBExpert applications (VetExpert, as he calls them) as freeware to other veterinary offices and programmers. "The files are about 1.5 MB zipped, and about 3 MB unzipped. And, I'm including a 1200-item veterinary inventory file, which is something most veterinarians certainly don't want to type into their own computer."
So the next time you take Fido or Saucey in for a checkup, it may be Dr. Tom Molloy's handiwork that keeps track of their shots, orders their tests, and helps keep them healthy.
And sends you the bill.
For more information:
Dr. Thomas "Tom" Molloy, Seven Hills Veterinary Services, Loveland (a Cincinnati suburb), OH 45140, 513/575-9696, http://www.sevenhillsvet.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
DBExpert and Relish, Sundial Systems Corporation, 909 Electric Avenue, Suite 204, Seal Beach, CA 90740, Phone 562/596-5121, FAX 562/596-7825, http://www.sundialsystems.com, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
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