Education Journal Club

Ebooks, remote medicine and libraries

Remote access to medical references

Working remotely often means doing without many things. This can be medical equipment, diagnostics, reference books, air conditioning and hot water. Fortunately, most locations on the planet now can feature “web access”  through several methods including satellite connections. Remote web access is costly, sometimes unreliable and costly (deliberately mentioned twice). With web access one can visit a multitude of sites to search for medical reference material. The key is having access to medical references without relying on the internet. The other key is having as much information as you can have with the greatest ease of carrying.

Problems and solutions

I am a believer in redundancy. The famous saying goes “two is one and one is none”. Accessing online medial references is great but what do you do if you have a power issue, connection problems or are in a location such as a canyon that prohibits satellite line-of-sight? Also, this information is targeted at mortals like me who constantly look things up, read voraciously and study continuously. Practitioners who do not use medical references, know everything and do not study are exempt from these problems.

After testing and trialing many devices I have settled on a Kindle reader, iPad and iPod. My reading platform is Amazon’s Kindle and I also make use of Documents to Go for pdf and word documents. Each device performs a different function and purpose.

Kindle reader

Good: Amazing battery life, better for reading outside in daylight, lightweight

Bad: Hard to read “large sized documents”, hard to use hyperlinks


Good: Amazing display especially indoors, easy to search through, easy to read, web browser, 10 hour battery life

Bad: Expensive, 10 hour battery life, fragile


Good: very portable, runs kindle software

Bad: hard to read/study on, least battery life of all three

Books I have for remote medical practice on my ebook reader

Now this is simply what I carry when I go off to a remote site. I also believe that there may be better textbooks available than what I have in ebook form. However, not all books are available as an ebook. Often times, I work for 1-2 weeks in a remote area, frequently without decent internet access. These textbooks are what I have found useful to help in diagnosis, treatment and management.

As for power: Power Monkey is all you need to know!

I would be interested in learning what other books people advise or are carrying on their jobs! Please let me know other creative ideas you might have for using medical references in remote locations including power solutions, readers, technology devices, etc.

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