Piedmont Avenue Clinic: Founder Prescribes Bento for Tracking Contacts and Logging Cases
Daniel Donner L.Ac.
HMC, CCH, Dip. Ac.
Bento can be good for your health, especially when you’re a patient at Piedmont Avenue Clinic in Oakland, California. Daniel Donner, the clinic’s founder and seasoned alternative health practitioner, organizes important information with Bento synched to Mac OS X Address Book and iCal. ”I use Bento to track my marketing contacts and efforts, and log all the workers compensation cases I deal with,“ he says. ”Bento is just easy. My assistant and I were able to set it up without any help and I use it on an almost daily basis. It has helped things run more smoothly here at the clinic and I could definitely see myself using it for other projects in the future.“
Donner’s passion for alternative medicine grew out of, of all things, stage lighting. He worked behind the scenes as a lighting tech during high school and later studied stage lighting at Carnege Mellon. Through the years, he noticed the peculiar effect his lights had on the actors. ”I have always been very interested in energy,“ he says. ”When I worked in stage lighting I became impressed with the affects of light and energy sources on people. That eventually led me to the study of homeopathic medicine and other modalities.“
That study sent his career spinning. He left the stage lights behind in favor of a more direct relationship with energy. ”I knew that I wanted to apply what I was learning about energy to help people,“ he says. ”The closest thing was acupuncture and Chinese Medicine—they're both really energy medicine. So I started taking the medical courses I would need to do acupuncture and treat patients.“
He later studied acupuncture at the San Francisco College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. In 1987 he earned his acupuncture license and officially began seeing patients a short while later. Today he's the chief acupuncturist and homeopathic clinician at his clinic. He treats patients suffering from everything from arthritis to food allergies to anxiety using acupuncture, deep tissue massage, homeopathic treatments and herbal therapy. ”I treat people who suffer from sugar imbalances, insomnia, carpal tunnel, leg cramping, psychological disorders—many different ailments,“ he says. ”And I keep records about all my patients to track treatments and therapies with FileMaker Pro and Bento.“
Record keeping is a cornerstone of medicine, whether it's western medicine or homeopathic Chinese medicine. Donner logs his patients' progress using an extensive FileMaker Pro database that's almost as old as his practice. "I started using FileMaker Pro in the early '90s," he says. "I had a template that was written for medical offices.
Eventually I switched to a template written specifically for acupuncturists. We also keep track of the thousands of herbs we use, their uses and our inventory." The database worked well for organizing patient records, but soon Donner had the need for another organizational tool.
The acupuncturist had thousands of marketing contacts in his Mac OS X Address Book and he needed an efficient way to sort it all out. "I send marketing packets out to physicians, mostly orthopedic and osteopathic, then I follow up with phone calls," he says. "I log notes in Bento and keep track of all my marketing contacts." All of those contacts are synced with Donner's Address Book in Mac OS X. "Bento integrates my Address Book and iCal data wonderfully," he says. "It pulls the contacts out of Address Book and charts my calendar from iCal. It has a rough version of my schedule, which is very useful."
iCal and Address Book integration also allows Donner to organize speaking dates, a key part of his clinic. "I speak about the clinic and our treatments at seminars and even health food stores on a regular basis," he says. "Having all that information in Bento is a real time saver for me."
Donner hopes to use Bento, iCal and Address Book with an iPhone to coordinate his appointments and speaking dates when he's away from the office. "Being able to access all that information on my phone will be a big step forward for me," he says.
Bento also handles some heavy-duty data at Piedmont Avenue Clinic. Donner and his assistant use the application to organize the mountains of paperwork required for workers compensation cases. "We needed something separate to keep track of those cases," says Donner. "And we needed to set it up quickly. We didn't need a whole new FileMaker Pro database, so we used Bento."
The team created a customized Bento database in less than a day. "Setting up Bento is easy because you can use the templates as starting points," says Donner. "We fiddled around with it and my assistant and I figured out how to get it up and running in an afternoon. It's the perfect solution for us."
With the new Bento database, Donner and his assistant can chart the extensive paperwork required for workers compensation cases. "When you treat people for workers compensation cases, you need to get a letter of authorization, then send a report," says Donner. "If another physician is involved, you need to keep track of that as well. You have to document every step of treatment and you end up with a lot of information. With Bento, I am able to keep track of everything on a single customized worksheet."
Additionally, the acupuncturist may branch out and use Bento in other areas of his life. "I can see how Bento would be very useful when planning many types of projects—home improvement for example—and I don't doubt that I'll use it for other things."
Bento has streamlined Donner's practice and, somewhat to his surprise, he finds himself creating databases. "Bento is very user friendly. If you need to add another field to the database, you just add it and it works."