topbanner_forum
  *

avatar image

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length
  • Sunday April 21, 2024, 2:48 am
  • Proudly celebrating 15+ years online.
  • Donate now to become a lifetime supporting member of the site and get a non-expiring license key for all of our programs.
  • donate

Author Topic: Form letters for medical use  (Read 4682 times)

oblivion

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2010
  • **
  • Posts: 494
    • View Profile
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Form letters for medical use
« on: March 08, 2023, 05:20 AM »
This might be a bit rambly. Bear with me. :)

I was chatting to a couple of admins for the local diabetic retinopathy screening service yesterday. They already routinely send results letters to patients, but they're trying to do something specifically for people with reading and learning disabilities.

So they got hung up on designing a layout for a letter; there are some agreed standards for font, layout, illustrations, borders, object positioning and sizing and so forth, and the main part of our conversation was around helping them understand what the difference between a master page and a page with actual, variable content is.

So far so straightforward.

However, letters are built depending on the findings of a patient exam and the content will vary considerably depending on all sorts of factors. And somewhere in the back of my mind, some background process was wondering if something like Mouser's Form Letter Machine could help.

I've come to the conclusion that probably not. But the concept: a set of checkboxes and radio buttons that can place prebuilt elements on a page, perhaps with some variable information (like patient name and address, perhaps) and where those elements are very formatted (a graphic with some associated text) and intended to fit within a strict layout (say four horizontal panels with a set amount of white space between the elements) strikes me as exactly the sort of thing that ought to exist already...

I know how to make mailmerge-type documents work, but the concept of embedding a specific object following strict layout rules based on a user-selectable choice in a dialog of some sort, I don't think that's something I've seen. It doesn't feel like it ought to be all that niche but maybe I'm just more inclined to think about automation than most people?

Anyone have any ideas of things I might suggest or helpful things I might try? Or even (I guess) if I could use The Form Letter Machine to output something that something with page design features could be persuaded to pick up and work with?
-- bests, Tim

...this space unintentionally left blank.

Deozaan

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • ***
  • Points: 1
  • Posts: 9,750
    • View Profile
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: Form letters for medical use
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2023, 12:43 PM »
This is a different direction, but I've heard that a lot of organizations are finding ChatGPT to be very helpful for customizing/personalizing form letters.

oblivion

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2010
  • **
  • Posts: 494
    • View Profile
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: Form letters for medical use
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2023, 05:04 PM »
This is a different direction, but I've heard that a lot of organizations are finding ChatGPT to be very helpful for customizing/personalizing form letters.
I have yet to experiment. :)

But in this case, there are a set of quite prescriptive guidelines relating to how things must be laid out on the page, how to present the information as simply as possible, how to make it work for people with learning disabilities and other conditions that can make potentially complex issues difficult to engage with. There are quite a few possible outcomes of a retinopathy scan, some of which consist of "don't worry and come back again next year" and others where a referral to a hospital ophthalmology service is needed. I'm told the number of different possible letters that might need to be sent are close to 100...

TFLM is excellent for defining chunks of boilerplate text that can be added in just by choosing options from a menu. But this is a step beyond that: instead of text (or pure text, anyway) think small, friendly picture on the left with large font text using just a few of Randall Monroe's Thing Explainer style words to give a simple and understandable message. And those blocks must be spaced carefully on a page, so the white space is as important as the words.

I'm wondering if I can maybe suggest the use of something like a Publisher template with mailmerge fields and use the latter to call up a graphic / textbox pair, prebuilt and preformatted to be dropped into a precise position on a page / group of pages. If I can make TFLM spit out csv style data, that might work...
-- bests, Tim

...this space unintentionally left blank.

rjbull

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • default avatar
  • Posts: 3,199
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Form letters for medical use
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2023, 05:17 PM »
I'm wondering if I can maybe suggest the use of something like a Publisher template with mailmerge fields and use the latter to call up a graphic / textbox pair, prebuilt and preformatted to be dropped into a precise position on a page / group of pages. If I can make TFLM spit out csv style data, that might work...

Just saw your Re: GS-Base Mini-Review post.  If you're thinking of the mailmerge route, Serif Affinity Publisher might be a good-value alternative to Microsoft Publisher.

Although, I have to say, I'm still not very clear on what you really want.

oblivion

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2010
  • **
  • Posts: 494
    • View Profile
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: Form letters for medical use
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2023, 05:51 PM »
Although, I have to say, I'm still not very clear on what you really want.

I didn't think I was explaining things very well.

Imagine a picture with some associated words in a horizontal box that fills the width of a page and maybe a quarter of its length.

Now imagine there's about fifty of them, all different but similarly formatted. Some are explanations of the service, some are specific to the diagnosis, some ask the patient to do things...

A letter might contain eight of them, which ones being chosen according to the specific needs of the patient and their test results. They'll be in some sort of order, there will be different categories, many will be mutually exclusive.

TFLM allows paragraphs of text to be assembled into a completed document, but it doesn't do formatting or graphical content. And for this, formatting is every bit as important as the content.

There's a big enough problem that it's worth trying to automate it, but it's not so big that it's going to justify industrial levels of automation -- and nobody's got a budget for that anyway.

Still clear as mud? ;)
-- bests, Tim

...this space unintentionally left blank.

nickodemos

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2009
  • **
  • Posts: 145
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Form letters for medical use
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2023, 06:17 PM »
I recomend Lintalist.
https://www.donation....msg387324#msg387324

Might not be as easy to set up if your doing 50 different options but I have used it with a dozen or more.

Target

  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 1,832
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Form letters for medical use
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2023, 06:59 PM »
does it have to be text?  could not the image/text combination be converted to an image so you're just pasting/inserting an image from a pic list? 

You haven't defined any application limitations, ie word, or some specialised medical application.  That said, an automated solution would be possible BUT will need a comprehensive flow map before anything could be built...

oblivion

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2010
  • **
  • Posts: 494
    • View Profile
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: Form letters for medical use
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2023, 12:10 AM »
does it have to be text?  could not the image/text combination be converted to an image so you're just pasting/inserting an image from a pic list?
It's definitely a possibility - makes it slightly harder to update if text changes might need to be made in the future, but yes, that might make the final assembly process easier.
-- bests, Tim

...this space unintentionally left blank.