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Sunday 2 November 2008

PDAs in Healthcare -Passe or in Vogue

The PDA is a very small and portable, handheld computer, which has many more functions than a calculator, and the capacity to store information much like a Personal Computer (PC). Basic functionality available on most PDAs includes an address book, schedule, calendar, note pad, and e-mail. The PDA is convenient to use in clinical and field situations for quick data management, and the information can be synchronized with a PC . By means of a wireless network, information can be exchanged anytime from anywhere to and from a PDA, and the network will provide immediate access to all kinds of necessary clinical and administrative data .
Health care professionals need access to information several times a day, and the PDA has the potential to provide this. For the PDA, there are numerous documents and medical software applications available, with a wide variation in quality. A large number of medical students take advantage of the PDA for educational purposes and patient care with great satisfaction. Loaded with suitable functions and software applications, the PDAs are now meeting the need for having access to up-to-date information on a just-in-time basis, thus making the PDA a qualified support tool for personnel and students in health care.

The frequency of PDA use varied among different personnel and students in health care. Most of the users were male, with some exceptions among students and faculty. Medical residents used PDAs more than physicians, but there were also reports of a similar frequency of use amongst the two categories, and some physicians used a PDA when teaching medical students. Several special software programs have been created and tested for PDA use. Clinical Decision Support Software (CDSS) has been tested among medical students, and most students agreed that CDSS enhanced their learning, and they became especially fond of their access to Cochrane reviews, history, and physical examination functions. The same decision tool was used by physicians when prescription of pharmaceuticals and safety were evaluated. Physicians using the CDSS for prescription of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs made fewer unsafe treatment decisions than those not using this software. In another study, nurses tested CHOICE, a PDA-based support system for preference-based care planning . The system supported nurses in eliciting patient preferences for functional performance at bedside.

The PDA seems to be a feasible and convenient tool, with one of its top advantages being the speed with which one can retrieve information on the spot. Accessibility to updated information can be improved when using a PDA, which provides an opportunity to check for the latest medical information in a convenient way. Access to drug and medical information might improve patient care and make it more effective and, hopefully, time-saving. In the present scenerio,PDAs improve decision-making and point toward positive changes in patient treatment, a conclusion in line with a previous review. The possibility of checking medical orders and patient identification by using, for example, a PDA with a bar-code system, can reduce errors.I am pretty convinced that there is a need for the PDA and that this is a tool for all professionals and students in health care.

To overcome barriers, the challenge is to provide the right support and to create suitable functions and software applications for various health care professionals in various specialities.I tried and study all such barriers and challenges offlate. Most of these barriers seem to be more behavioral than technical in nature. To overcome these barriers, guided practice, explanations, and adequate training time are needed, and access to technical support is necessary. Other barriers, such as short battery life and small memory capacity, should be easily overcome by constantly expanding technology. The PDA can also improve learning for students in clinical practice and health care professionals. A recent study stated that healthcare professionals in Sweden learned about new medical developments sooner with a PDA than without one, in which case there might exist medical developments that they had not learned about at all. This is a good news. These important data confirm that a PDA is suitable for both students and professionals to improve learning.


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