LNCtips.com: Software to Get You Started
What software do you need as a new legal nurse consultant? First, let's make sure that we have our terminology straight. Hardware refers to your computer itself while software refers to the programs that your computer operates. Luckily, you may already have the software that you need, can download needed software for free, or can use software via cloud computing.
You'll need office suite software to start. Office suites contain word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software. Some offer email and other programs too. Microsoft Office is the world's most popular office suite. That means that many of your clients use Microsoft Office, a fact that we'll discuss later. Microsoft Office comes in several versions from basic to professional. The professional version has extra programs that you may not need. Another common software suite is Corel Office Suites. Many law firms use Corel so you may have clients that use it. Corel also has several versions and it's less expensive than Microsoft Office. I think Corel's office suite is a little clunky to use compared to Microsoft. If cost is an issue, you can't beat free. Open Office and Google Docs all have basic office software and all are free. Google Docs is an example of cloud computing; you create and save your documents online. Below are the names of the different components in these office suites.
|Microsoft||Corel||Open Office||Google Docs|
How will you use office suite software? Let's look at the different ways.
Spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are great for creating graphs and charts from data such as weights or lab values.
Presentations. This type of software is used to create and present slideshows, usually at mediations and trials. Some LNCs also use presentation software to present slideshows to attorney groups as part of their marketing efforts.
Email. You'll need an email program to send and receive electronic correspondence to and from clients. You probably already have an email account but be sure to create an email address that reflects your professional image.
In addition to an office suite, you'll need a few other software programs.
PDF software. You probably already have Adobe Acrobat Reader, software that lets you open and view PDF documents. But you really need to be able to convert your documents into PDF format and Reader doesn't do that. PDF conversion is important because it allows you to keep your document's formatting, sort of like taking a picture of the document. This is important because if you're using one type of word processing software and your client is using another, your documents can look seriously messed up when you send them electronically to your client. See my webpage on formatting documents for an example. NitroPDF, a free software program, can convert any file format to PDF.
Internet. You'll need to be able to access the internet to do internet research, possibly check your email and, if you're into cloud computing, use other software programs. You probably already use Internet Explorer for these functions but there are other internet programs that are more stable and less virus-prone than Explorer. Check out Firefox, Google Chrome, and Safari as free alternatives in internet software.
Antivirus software. This is the most important software but also the most neglected. Your clients won't appreciate it if your computer becomes infected and a virus is emailed to everyone in your email address book, including them. In addition to the mainstays, Norton Antivirus and McAfee, there are free antivirus programs such as AVG and Panda.
That's the software that you'll need to get started as an LNC.After you've built up your caseload, consider investing in other software. There are two additional programs that many LNCs use, but I don't recommend purchasing them if you only review an occasional case. They're expensive and, as a new legal nurse consultant, your learning curve is already pretty steep. You may want to get a good handle on using the other software before you add these programs.
Adobe Acrobat Standard or Pro. These versions of Adobe Acrobat are really helpful when reviewing medical records in electronic format. With these versions, you can not only view documents, you can Bates stamp them, rearrange them, copy and paste text from them into your summary or chronology, and add comments. Plus you can convert your documents to PDF format. To view how these programs can help you, view my video on working with electronic records
CaseMap. CaseMap is my all-time favorite LNC software. CaseMap is a litigation management system that creates a medical chronology. With it, you can link electronic documents to specific chronology entries, tag and filter entries, create treater lists and much more.
Now you know what types of computer software is useful for legal nurse consultants and what the software is used for!