HOME | Blog | YouTube | LinkedIn | About Me         || Calculators    | SoftEng/Tech Posts    | Code/Scripts

Monday, April 29, 2013

OneNote - NOT as a notes application, but as a database system

This is about using OneNote as a database and not as a notes application.

I use OneNote for note-taking and I have built up over 1Gb of notes over the years. The more I use it, the more I realize that it is really powerful. I am also realizing that it can be used as a simple database system.

What is the most powerful feature of OneNote? Simple answer: Searching

So how can you use OneNote as a database. I am not talking about a database system for which you can build applications to talk to it. I am talking about OneNote acting as an application and database all in one.

Let's say a doctor or a dentist come to me with the following requirements:
- I want to be able to easily find customer records
- I want to be able to have all customer records including pictures, x-ray videos and so on.
- I want my staff to enter notes on every visit and I want to be able to easily go through these notes.

The programmer in me would say, I will develop an application for you that will do all this. However, the software engineer in me analyzes the requirement and figures out the best solution (the most cost effective); then I would satisfy those requirements by doing the following steps:

  1. Purchase Microsoft Office 2010 or Office 365 (which most businesses have anyways)
  2. Install it on all the computers at the doctor's/dentist's office
  3. Set up a file server on the network (i.e. Drobo file server)
  4. Using OneNote, set up notebook that would be sitting on the network drive. Depending on the Windows account, you can set up different permissions on folders of this network drive. Maybe the doctor can only modify certain records. That can be managed through these permissions.

Set up these OneNote notebooks with its sections. Each section would have a list of topics/pages. For example, you can create a notebook called "Patients". Then the sections would be the patient name and account number. Each section/patient would have a list of pages and each page is really a record of that given customer.

Each page/topic in OneNote could follow a simple naming convention (i.e.  start with the date 2013-04-28 and then the subject or reason for patient's visit).

The search feature in OneNote is very powerful. In this case, if you search for the patient's account number, it will find all occurrences as you are typing the number in the search box.

Let's assume, the patient wants all the their records or specific records. In OneNote, you can easily go to the section for that given patient and send all/some of the notes into a PDF file, MS Word and many other formats. Then you can zip up this file with 256-bit encryption and securely transfer it to the customer via many different online file-share solutions instead of sending emails; we all know that emails are not secure and emails cannot handle large attachments.


  • It does not cost you anything to prototype/implement this solution if you already have Microsoft Office.
  • Your staff can easily be trained on OneNote. There are many free online tutorials or local training programs that are affordable.

Keywords: #onenote #notes #notetaking #database #dentist #doctor

No comments:

Post a Comment