The Army way

It's 2002, and this army pilot fish is a patient-administration specialist at his base -- and as far as technology goes, he's in pretty good shape.

"A former physician's assistant at our aid station had built an Access database application for tracking patients so we didn't have to use archaic paper logs," fish says. "More privacy, better tracking capability, easier reporting."

And that's what fish is using when his unit is called up for deployment to Iraq. Naturally, when a batch of laptops arrives as part of the deployment process, fish goes to his platoon leader to pick one up.

Sorry, he's told, only the leadership is getting laptops.

But how are we going to do patient tracking? fish asks.

Platoon leader walks fish over to a file cabinet, opens a drawer and shows him the old log books and reporting sheets. This is how the real army does things, he says.

Fish returns to his desk -- and promptly goes online to order a used laptop, which he takes with him to Iraq.

"Since the physician's assistant had compiled his system and not provided any administrator options, I spent the first several months in the combat zone rebuilding the entire application from scratch, all the while wasting countless hours filling out paperwork," says fish.

"The truly ironic part? I was later awarded an Army Achievement Medal for the database app that I had built, which became the standard for patient tracking within the regiment."

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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