Canadian MD Uses PC to Manage Patients, Students, and Business

As a small business owner, Leif Sigurdson relies on the most up to date technology to work effectively and efficiently, while minimizing his administrative duties so he can focus on the core values and deliverables of his business.

As an Associate Professor of Plastic Surgery at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Dr. Leif Sigurdson has even greater responsibility: for the health and welfare of his patients, and the professional training and development of his students and surgeon resident practitioners.

He can accomplish all this by combining his own personal computing skills with the features and functions of a Windows Vista equipped PC. For more about Vista, be sure to visit’s Vista Resources page.

Big Smile Goes a Long Way

Icelandic native Dr. Sigurdson runs a busy reconstructive surgery practice and he maintains a packed teaching schedule, but in addition, he is well-known and well-received as a health care researcher and reformer, as well as for his philanthropic and volunteer activities around the world.

For over 12 years, he worked in overseas missions throughout the developing world, providing cleft lip, cleft palate and burn surgeries for children through the humanitarian group Operation Smile. It’s a remarkable organization, having treated more than 115,000 children and having trained thousands of healthcare professionals worldwide.

To make sure he’s highly organized and productive in all his activities, Dr. Sigurdson upgraded his PC environment from Windows XP to the Windows Vista operating system and the 2007 Microsoft Office system last year.

The intuitive interface, powerful search capabilities, new security and network features of Windows Vista help him get more done in less time, he says.

“I’m very much an adopter of new technology, and Windows Vista has proven to be a very useful tool for me. I can get the information I need, when I need it,” says Dr. Sigurdson. “I have to manage a lot of important information that is often confidential, as well as keep on top of projects. I can’t afford to lose track of anything, so I look for technology that can make me more efficient at everything I do in the time I have available.”

Dr. Sigurdson uses a range of desktop applications to stay organized.

With the new Instant Search feature, for example, he can locate important documents and e-mails on his PC or on the Web.

As well, with added search capabilities in the Office Outlook 2007 messaging and collaboration client, Dr. Sigurdson can find messages from colleagues, patients and students in seconds, making it easier for him to research the context he needs to respond to new messages quickly.

“The search functions will become even more important as Canadian health authorities move to digitize health care documents,” Dr. Sigurdson says. “An efficient search engine built into the PC will help health practitioners like me find specific information even as the amount of digital data increases.”

He’s also comfortable as required access to that data increases as well.

He takes advantage of many of the security features in Vista, including Windows Defender, protecting users against spyware and other security threats.

What’s more, Windows Vista helps protect against social engineering attacks such as phishing. The Phishing Filter in Internet Explorer 7 scans Web addresses and websites for characteristics associated with known online Web fraud or phishing scams. It warns a user if any of the sites visited are suspicious.

Windows Vista also provides a complete backup and restore capability to help ensure files are always accessible.

“This is the most secure operating system I’ve ever used – and that’s so important when you’re managing patient information and data about students as well,” says Dr. Sigurdson.

Better Looking Information, Better Informed Patients

“Windows Vista gives me several ways to switch between applications. Using Windows Flip 3D, for instance, I can see all my windows with the press of a button and use another key to scroll through them. This reduces the time I need to spend at my desk looking for data,” he says.

Meanwhile, colour categories in Office Outlook 2007 help him distinguish messages about patients from those pertaining to his students, simplifying email management and saving time.

“Regardless of how I label documents the Windows Vista search function can find them in seconds with only a couple of keywords. Put that together with search capabilities of Office Outlook 2007 and its email management capabilities as well, and you have a valuable tool for a researcher like me,” he describes.

A significant amount of the information Dr. Sigurdson works with is about breast cancer patients, and he uses his computer hardware and software to help patients understand and cope with surgery.

For instance, with the PowerPoint 2007 presentation graphics program on his Windows Vista PC, he develops informative presentations specifically for his patients.

They can learn more about their surgery in the comfort of their own homes, by taking home one of his presentations on CD, or by accessing it online.

With the Windows Vista operating system supporting the graphics features, Dr. Sigurdson can also quickly call up earlier presentations and use them as references for new presentations.

“From my experience, I know that patients have a lot of questions after they leave the office,” says Dr. Sigurdson. “I can send people home with the information, so they can review it on their own time, when they’re ready. Making the patient comfortable is part of the healing process, so those presentations are very valuable.”

In fact, a research group in the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Dalhousie has developed an online survey tool for women who have undergone a mastectomy or related reconstruction. The online survey is preceded by an explanatory video by principal investigator Dr. Sigurdson.

Online access is crucial for disseminating health information, and a web-based news and information portal called the Atlantic Breast Cancer Net (ABCN), was developed to meet an information need for Atlantic Canadians affected by breast cancer.

Online Access and Security Concerns

Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine and its Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery comprises two separate geographic campuses – in Halifax, and in Saint John, New Brunswick.

So, in setting up networks to connect computer for his home and offices, Dr. Sigurdson often had to consult sometimes confusing manuals in order to successfully to do. But, the tech-savvy professional says that now, he can accomplish the same thing in a matter of minutes.

“Using Windows Vista I’ve never had to consult a manual. Now I can set up the network in hardly any time at all. This represents another valuable time-saver,” he says.

With the click of a button he can securely connect to wireless local networks in hospitals, at home, and while working abroad. With support for advanced wireless network security protocols, Windows Vista helps keep connections safe from hackers and network snoops, allowing him to edit and send documents, consult with colleagues, and address student questions and more, no matter where he is.

“I’m on the move often, and I take my work with me. With the wireless security of Windows Vista and the productivity features of the Office 2007 system, I can keep connected, productive, and secure, no matter where I need to be.”

Security, privacy and accuracy are not just benchmarks of effective computer use – they are legal requirements for health care practitioners and the personal patient information they use.

So Dr. Sigurdson also takes advantage of the security features in Office and in Vista.

Documents sent from his PC, like patient information, get password-protected, ensuring that only those who are authorized to view the data have access.

As well, the improved junk mail filter in Office Outlook 2007 sets unwanted messages aside.

By combining the 2007 Office system security features with those in Windows Vista, Dr. Sigurdson’s protects his PC against online security threats such as spyware and other unwanted programs. With Windows Firewall integration into Windows Vista, he can stop malware from infecting his computer by analyzing how the operating system is behaving and shutting down suspicious data flow before it causes problems.

The Phishing Filter in IE 7 warns him about visiting suspicious sites that are trying to steal the valuable information saved on his PC.

All of these advanced security measures assure Dr. Sigurdson that his computer is always operating optimally, and that the information he sends, receives and saves on the PC is safe.

“With this new level of confidence I’m more comfortable sending documents to colleagues from my home PC. This gives me one less thing to worry about during my day,” says Dr. Sigurdson. “It gives me one less thing to worry about during my day.”

By empowering his business, his profession and his personal interests, his newly upgraded PC also gives him one more thing to smile about.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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