Dr Ajith kumar D S
All homoeopathic software were made to assist the homeopath in analyzing a case and finding the simillimum.
This process can be broken down into several steps:
Take the case.
Select rubrics from the repertory.
Analyze the rubric selection in terms of finding likely remedies for the case.
Confirm the remedies from the repertorization in the materia medica.
Prescribe a remedy and update your records of the case.
No computer software can really help you with the first step, but right from step 2 through 5, all three programs stand by your side and make your life easier to varying degrees. In fact, they really do more than that. Today’s repertorization software also makes studying remedies and differential materia medica much easier.
But still, a computer repertory is nothing but an index to the materia medica, sorted by individual symptoms. There are few things a computer does better than searching databases according to certain criteria, so putting a computer to work on the problem of repertorization is the most natural thing to do. All of the programs perform well in this respect; they find rubrics quickly and obviate the tedious task of writing out remedies in each rubric by hand. The most important question, though, is: How easy is it for the user to get them to do what s/he wants. The consistency and quality of the user interface is probably the most decisive factor in the buying decision.
Repertory books and Materia Medicas
Most programs come with different repertories in electronic form. Depending on the size of your wallet, you start out with one or two and then can add others if you feel the urge. Bear in mind, though, that the list of available repertories for each program is subject to change and will likely grow longer in the near future.
As you well know, after narrowing down the remedy selection to a choice of a few, those need to be confirmed in the materia medica. In general, it is a good and comforting idea to have the materia medica within easy reach when repertorizing a case. Each program tries to fill that need and offers you some selection of well known materia medica texts.
Searching for rubrics
Once you decide on a repertory, the next task is to find the appropriate rubrics for your case. Without the help of a computer, you have to know your repertory well. True to history, many repertories are based on J. T. Kent’s organization of his repertory and present chapters in the familiar head-to-toe sequence instead of in alphabetic order. There are advantages and disadvantages to each approach, and both sometimes have related symptoms scattered throughout the repertory showing up in places you would have never looked. The computer comes to your aid in that it lets you find rubrics based on words or combinations of words. The downside: if you start relying on this crutch too early, you will never really get to know your repertory; it will always remain a somewhat distant acquaintance to you.
As you find the rubrics for your case, you collect them into clipboards. Each clipboard holds a set of rubrics which can be analyzed separately later on. This allows you to take a look at what the mental picture suggests, separately from the physical symptoms, for example. Simply put all the mental rubrics into one clipboard and all the physical ones into another. The uses of these handy clipboards are really manifold, and all three programs have them. CARA offers three clipboards, RADAR has ten, and MacRepertory gives you six. In my own experience, anything less than three is too limiting, but three work fine.
Here is where having a computer really saves you time. However, the speed with which the computer suggests a remedy to you bears an element of danger. It is deceptive, because one tends to forget that no amount of whiz bang will give you the right remedy from the wrong selection of rubrics. The principle of GIGO (garbage-in-garbage-out) applies here more then anywhere else. Before describing the analysis capabilities of each program, let me explain briefly what analysis strategies are.
Probably the most common way to analyze a case is to take into account the grade of the remedy and the number of rubrics it appears in to compute a final “score”. One can modify this, by taking into account the “underlining” (i.e. importance of each rubric to the case) as well. Invariably, however, small remedies will not fare well with either of these strategies.
An important part of the case analysis is the ability to restrict your attention to only a certain class of remedies, e.g. the minerals, snake remedies, remedies belonging to the sycotic miasm, etc. Sometimes I found myself in a situation, where all I saw was polychrests. In this case, it is a great help to be able to simply tell the computer not to show any polychrests and exclude them from the analysis. The programs differ greatly in their ability to specify exactly on which remedies the analysis is to be performed.
Again, I found that CARA’s feature set of analysis strategies and options is sufficient in many circumstances. What RADAR adds on top of it, is its Vithoulkas Expert System (VES) and much expanded capabilities in terms of selecting remedies by family. MacRepertory is, however, the easiest and most straightforward system to use in this respect. In terms of fine tuning and selecting different case analysis strategies, it offers more than the other two programs. Selecting remedies by family and restricting repertorization to certain families is a breeze. Even though RADAR gives me a similar level of control, it feels a bit rough around the edges. Counting the number of mouse clicks necessary to perform a certain task in RADAR, it seems always to be that much more difficult and less intuitive than in MacRepertory.
As to the expert systems.
The one in CARA is simply a fixed analysis strategy, which has been honed on a large number of cases. The term “expert system” is, in my opinion, inappropriate. On the other hand, CARA performed well and suggested reasonable remedy choices using the “expert” analysis. Most of the time, I would look at a case using this setting as well as a simple “flat” repertorization. RADAR’s VES is touted to be akin to having George Vithoulkas looking over your shoulder. I can’t attest to this, since George has never looked over my shoulder, but I can see how it may be attractive to some users. Personally, I found that I preferred most of the intelligence to remain under my control and didn’t use the VES frequently. This may to a big part be due to my not using underlining in the manner necessary for the VES to show off its best side.
MacRepertory undoubtedly gives you the most control over the repertorization strategy. Everything is customizable and adaptable to your needs. The sheer number of possibilities can be confusing to the user, but fortunately all but the most frequently used controls are well hidden from plain view. This, I felt, gave me the control I wanted when I needed it, without being right up in my face with every little feature.
Both RADAR and MacRepertory offer specialized analysis features which draw upon the experience and techniques of several well known homeopaths. I already mentioned RADAR’s Vithoulkas Expert System, but there is also the Vakil and Herscu modules available. See further down for a brief description. MacRepertory extends its suite of analysis strategies by categorizing remedies into groups such as the five elements, or astrological planets, etc
Presentation of the repertorization
As any statistician will attest to, no data is worth its paper unless it is presented in a way that brings out the message it is trying to tell. What I was looking for in particular was the ability to manipulate the rubric information (e.g., changing the underlining, combining rubrics, substituting other rubrics, etc.), change the analysis strategy, and zoom in on a specific group of remedies (e.g., snakes, acids, solanaceae, etc.) while being able to see what impact my manipulations have on the repertorization.
Materia medica studies
I didn’t know it at first, but repertorization programs make great tools for studying remedies. It’s a breeze to extract rubrics for several remedies at the same time, and then compare and contrast them. Here’s an example: Platinum and Palladium are chemically related metals. How does this observation reflect in their respective delusions? To research this by hand would require to go through the entire chapter on delusions in the repertory and write down any rubric in which both remedies appear together. Did I hear you sigh? Fear not! Let the computer be your aid.
Patient charts and case management
As one follows a case over a period of time, there is a lot of information that needs to be recorded from visit to visit. Wouldn’t it be handy, if all the information pertaining to a patient could be stored in one file, easily accessible and amendable? You can rest calmly, all three programs provide some way of doing just that.
In principle, you can type your case notes right into the computer in front of the patient. I know several people who do just that, although I don’t do it personally (for one, I am not a good enough typist). You would thereby eliminate the need for a sheet of paper completely, and come a step closer to the paperless office. RADAR has just started to offer, as separate modules, an extensive patient information database system.
Special features in RADAR
In addition to the Vithoulkas Expert System, RADAR offers you the distilled wisdom of Prakash Vakil and Paul Herscu. Vakil focuses on the differentiation between remedies using the appearance of the tongue, colors and moon phases. At any stage during case analysis or remedy differentiation, one can use additional rubrics and symptoms pertaining specifically to these three chapters. These additional rubrics pertaining to tongue, moon and color are in part additions by Vakil himself, based on 30 years of research. Vakil claims that differentiation between similar remedies based on these three chapters with the additional information he provides makes remedy selection more certain and quicker. Part of the Vakil module is also an audio recording of coughs characteristic for certain remedies. There are 10 different coughs one can listen to and view a short description of the patient who was recorded. Unfortunately, the recording quality is so poor that I found this feature of little value.
Next to Vithoulkas and Vakil, Paul Herscu has lent his wisdom to RADAR. The Herscu module provides an interface to Herscu’s case analysis approach. It would be too much to describe its features here, but I can only recommend to read Herscu’s new book. Based on my personal style of case analysis, I found the Herscu module enlightening and easy to use. It has the potential of providing a new view on an old case, which hitherto proved resistant to any other strategy.
Special features in MacRepertory
MacRepertory, too, offers you the particular insights of some well known homeopaths. You can look at a case through the eyes of William Boyd’s groups, Robin Murphy’s planets, Vega Rozenberg’s boxes, and Berkely Digby’s five elements. All these schemes are different ways to classify remedies – in essence, each is a way of dividing remedies into families. Murphy uses the planets of the solar system, Digby bases his classification on the five alchemical elements, Earth, Water, Fire, and Ether. You can analyze a case in each system and therefore conclude, e.g., that a particular case has a preponderance of Water symptoms. A brief description accompanies each system, but is in no way sufficient to start using it with any measure of confidence and competence. People who have either studied with these homeopaths or are familiar with their writings will probably welcome this feature of MacRepertory most. For the rest of us it isn’t going to do much.
One are where MacRepertory really shines is the analysis of a case based on natural families. With only two mouse clicks you see your case projected onto the periodical table of elements and can easily locate the center of gravity and likely remedy relationships there. Or, maybe, you suspect a plant remedy and want to see which botanical families the repertorization favors. Nothing easier than that. You can view the botanical families in hierarchical order, while the darker shades of green show you where the repertorization falls. I really enjoyed playing with this part of the program, not the least because the pictures are well done and fun to look at. Besides chemical and botanical relationships, there are several others you can explore in a similar fashion (e.g., zoological or miasmatic).
Special features in Hompath Classic 8.0 has 11 modules
- Contains 29 repertories .
- Gives expert strategies based on Boenninghausen, Kent and Bogerian concepts.
- Gives you analysis based on Animal, Mineral and Plant Kingdoms.
- Guides you to potency and repetition.
- A total patient analysis and management module .
- Has 270 books on Materia Medica, Philosophy, Therapeutics, Regional Therapeutics, Clinical, Drug Picture and Pharmacy.
- With its unique indexing system, you can search for any word in any permutation or combination in a matter of seconds and open the respective occurrences.
- You can prepare your own notes for learning, presentations, lectures and seminars.
- Confirm exact symptom before prescribing .
- An academic module that makes learning a pleasurable experience.
- It has group symptoms, therapeutics, prophylactic medicines, mother tinctures, question and answer sets on specific subjects like Materia Medica, Repertory etc., question sets of all subjects, cross references, word meanings and case analysis module.
MM Elite : Incorporates multimedia presentation of 31 important remedies.
MMLive : The world’s first Homoeopathic Multimedia C.D where 22 remedies come alive in front of you.
Tresorie : A compilation of over 4800 articles based on practical, clinical and homoeopathic experiences of many generations of Homoeopaths as published in various journals.
Links Tresorie : This virtual treasure chest of knowledge includes a fabulous compilation of articles from“International Homoeopathic Links” from the year 1987 to 2000 .
You can search for any article based on topic, subject, author, remedy or volume of your choice.
Patient Management System
The ‘ Patient Management System ‘ or PMS, as you may call it, is a modern day application that allows an easy way to store and update all the information about the patient.
It includes Patient Registration, Electronic Medical Record, etc.
‘Case Analysis’ module help you to analyze all the details of your cases including your successes and failures in practice.
The ‘Case Analysis’ is provided as a separate module to avoid conflicts with the main application.
This option has been designed as a personal research tool, that you can use not only for presentations and lectures but also for docu-menting and analyzing your cases for enhancing your practice.
Organiser; Bills ‘N’ More & Address Book
Important Homoeopathic software
- Organon 2001
- ISIS Vision
- Herbal Remedy Finder and Homeopathic Remedy Finder
- Homeopathic Remedy Finder
- Homeopathic Remedy Browser
- British Homeopathic Library
- Homeopathic Remedy Finder
- Repertorium Homeopathicum digital II
Dr.Ajith kumar.D.S, B.H.M.S, M.D.(Hom)
Department of Physiology & Biochemistry
Govt. Homoeopathic Medical College, Kozhikode