Tech tools for nurse road warriors: Automatic

Even working in a hospital, where you go one place and stay there, you end up schlepping your office with you everywhere. My scrub pockets were always stuffed with an amazing variety of stuff. Working basically out of your car is a new challenge insofar as stuff you need and how to keep it easily accessible. I still have to take my office everywhere I go, but the challenges have transformed from what kind of clip best secures my trauma shears to my pants to which bag will magically accommodate any equipment I may possibly ever need while not being too giant to carry (does Tardis make nurse bags?).

Obviously, I have also nailed down some technological assistance. My iPhone is probably right up there with my stethoscope in being vital for my job. In addition to the whole "I'm on the phone all day long" thing—in fact, I have TWO phones, both of which ring regularly—it does some pretty cool extra stuff.

The first thing I did when I got this job was buy an Automatic. Actually, the FIRST thing I did was refuse to spend $100 on a mileage tracker and instead tried to track where I went and when all on my own. This failed massively. The urge to "just remember it and do it later" is too strong. Some case managers, my boss tells me, carry their clipboards around and write down where they've been and when as they go. Good for them. I end up at the end of the day starting at my time sheet and being absolutely unable to recall what I did and when.

Automatic is a widget that you plug in to your car dashboard (you can't see it) and it communicates with your phone via Bluetooth. Automatically. So you can see everywhere you've been and when. You can tag trips if you want. It tells you your weekly mileage and how much you're spending in gas for each trip. It also has an Apple Watch app that keeps track of where you're parked and how long you've been there, handy for parking meter issues. Reportedly it tells you what warning lights mean and lets relevant people know if you have a crash; happily I've not needed to test either of these.

iOS screenshot. Yes, I drive a lot.

iOS screenshot. Yes, I drive a lot.

This stuff is pure gold for road warriors of any kind. It syncs with a Web site as well, and I have had a few instances where I've needed to look back and see what time I was somewhere and was able to do it.

Another iOS screenshot

Another iOS screenshot

For real geeks, Automatic has an IFTTT channel. You can log trips automatically to Dropbox, Evernote, or wherever, or you can have your Wemo turn on the light when you get home, or you can even have an iOS Reminder created if your check engine light comes on, so you remember to call the mechanic. IFTTT has a lot of ready-made Automatic recipes, including some of specific and questionable use such as "Call my spouse immediately if I park in front of a Nevada brothel."

If you don't drive for work, you probably don't need an Automatic. If you spend as much time as I do in the car, you might. It really simplifies some potential drudgery.