Vithoulkas Compass is a fairly new online repertory, currently in Beta form.
What's it like?
I've been practising homoeopathy for over 30 years, and I've got used to another homoeopathic programme which has suited me well.
However, I haven't upgraded it for over 10 years and when considering my options I was seduced into looking at Vithoulkas Compass.
As when learning anything new, it took me a little while to familiarize myself with it. No - I didn't read the instructions (until later) but mostly discovered how it worked without them. The instructions later helped me identify faster ways to do things.
Did and do I like Vithoulkas Compass? Yes and yes. It seems easy to use and, for me, is quite intuitive.
Before saying any more, is it suitable for patients to use? Actually no - nor is it intended for them. You do need to understand the Kent homoeopathic way of thinking about health and disease first, and then know how Kent's Repertory works which really, I think, requires that you've sat down and studied homoeopathy from the 'classical' tradition.
However, curiously, if you invested that time in learning how to use this programme, you might, perforce, learn how to find the first remedy. But in unravelling a chronic case, I think you'd need a lot more than that to help you understand the results of your first remedy and then find the next remedy.
First, are there any downsides?
1. Being web-based, how fast it works depends on your broadband connection, and my broadband speed varies widely from hour to hour so sometimes it's a bit tiresome.
2. And if I can't access the web, as is the case in the room where I see patients, I can't use it then and there.
3. It seems to be more rigorous in using Kent's repertory than my other programme, and sometimes when I check for a rubric it's either not there at all – as far as I can see – or I can't find it. (Quite possibly my fault, mind you!)
4. The search function hasn't always produced a positive result, although once or twice I've later found the rubric somewhere else.
What about the good points?
1. Once you get used to it, and accept that it doesn't have every known material medica or repertory in the system, (though they do seem to be adding them gradually) it produces some very good suggestions and not always ones that I'd have thought of. Not that I've always chosen the suggested rubric in the end, but it's made me reconsider the case from a different point of view that I'd overlooked.
2. It has a great feature that, once you've asked it to analyse your case and make suggestions, to check its choice it produces a range of questions that you might ask your client, and these seem somewhat better than the equivalent in my other programme.
3. My other programme also produces a list of small remedies to consider, but the way Compass does it forces me to consider them earlier than otherwise I might.
4. There is a facility to share my cases with other users, but I'm constitutionally not open to this so am of course, I daresay, losing out on whole terabytes of wit and accumulated wisdom. But for those who like this facility, it's great, and I expect that in the future improvements in the programme and additions to the materia medica and repertory will flow effortlessly from this. So, being entirely selfish, I like that potential too.
5. I haven't used the programme much. Perhaps 6 cases or so where for one reason or another the remedy didn't occur to me straight off, though looking at the results in several cases it certainly should have occurred to me. So it gives, as far as I am concerned, the right answer or very nearly the right answer. And if it's not the right answer, the remedy I've prescribed has always been in the top three or four suggestions and has greatly helped the client.
6. I look forward to using it. There's much less to learn than with my other programme (which I've also never had time to sit down and learn fully, expensive though it was) and well, currently, it's free, so that's a very good point!
Jonathan Clogstoun-Willmott 4th June 2012