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The Use of PDA’s in Health Care Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 20 March 2017

The Use of PDA’s in Health Care

Knowledge management in health care refers to the organization of and easy access to important know-how, whenever and wherever it is required (Pasupathy, 2006).  And, the Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) seems to be doing a perfect job of helping health care organizations and medical professionals manage knowledge in the palm of their hands.  No wonder, the health care industry has emerged as a leader in adopting the PDA, which is an application of mobile and wireless technology to manage a tremendous amount of data within hospitals and clinics (Havenstein, 2005).

     The history of the PDA in health care systems may be described in the following timeline:



1980:  Psion defined the PDA for the first time.


1984:  Psion launched the first handheld organizer, which was slightly longer and thicker than a large cigarette pack.


1993:  Apple launched its own PDA for the first time.


1995:  US Robotics acquired Palm Computing, which led to the launch of the Palm Pilot.


1996:  The Pilot was finally launched by US Robotics.


1997:  Apple produced a new PDA by the name of eMate; Palm Pilots became major players in the PDA market after US Robots was acquired by 3Com.


1999:  Palm began to lead the industry (Vanessa and Shroff, 2007).


2000:  Medical practitioners began using the PDA in huge numbers.


2004:  One survey of 34 health care organizations revealed that 80 percent of them are using PDA’s or plan to begin using them within a year.


2005:  A new survey of 253 health care executives revealed that 54 percent of them would be using PDA’s (Havenstein).


2007:  A survey revealed that 40% of clinicians in the United States are now using the PDA (PDA Causing Medical Revolution, 2007).



With a PDA, a medical practitioner or nurse has access to all the patient information that he or she would need at a given time.  Besides, doctors and nurses may download onto their PDA’s all of the medical knowledge they would ever require, for example, the downloadable American Academy of Pediatrics asthma guidelines.  The information in the palm of the medical practitioner’s hand today may further consist of medical journals and encyclopedias downloaded onto the PDA.

Another important piece of downloaded data on the PDA is billing information about inpatients and outpatients (Torre and Wright, 2003).  In short, the PDA is the answer to the prayer of every medical professional.  A PDA is a lightweight, durable, safe to use, low power equipment, that does not interfere with other medical equipment in use by a doctor or nurse.  What is more, the PDA does not involve any monthly charges.  It is like a personal computer that any medical doctor may own (PDA).

     Dr. Darrick Nelson (2005) is an assistant professor of family medicine, director of curriculum and head of medical information systems at the Corpus Christi Frostily Practice Residency Program in Corpus Christi Texas.  According to him, the PDA is an extremely powerful tool in the hands of the medical professional.  Dr. Nelson began using the PDA in the year 2005.  When his wife gave him the Palm Pilot as a gift, the doctor purchased various medical reference titles and loaded them onto his PDA to quickly learn that the PDA was indeed a valuable resource when used at the point of care.

     As in charge of the medical information systems of a 270-bed hospital in Texas with faculty and residents that make approximately 560 bedside patient visits every week, Dr. Nelson thought it was necessary to introduce the PDA to the residents and faculty members across the facility.  According to the doctor, “I knew my colleagues could benefit from a PDA loaded with trusted, integrated references…”  Dr. Nelson’s facility uses its annual budget for electronic medical references from Skyscrape Inc.  These references are the same as the actual books written by some of the world’s best medical authors and sold by top medical publishers.

In his supervisory role, Dr. Nelson, with his PDA, may quickly review medical cases, and the residents and doctors of his facility, with their own PDA’s, now have access to information required at the patient’s bedside.  This leads to fewer mistakes in diagnosis as well as prescription.  Moreover, it gives to the medical professionals more time with the patients.

     Dr. Nelson describes the ease of use of the PDA with an example.  He was presented with a case of myocardial infarction by way of calls received from the emergency room physicians in order to review a patient.  With his PDA in hand, the supervisor did not have to go to his office and open up the Griffith’s 5-Minute Clinical Consultant before checking its index.  Instead, Dr. Nelson simply typed “MYO” on his PDA and got all the information required to send back to the emergency room physicians in the matter of moments.

     To check on drug information, Dr. Nelson links to RxDrugs (AHFS Dosing Companion) downloaded onto his PDA.  This medical reference directly connects the doctor to the appropriate drugs for acute myocardial infarction, for instance.  By clicking on a drug on his PDA, for example, Lovenox, the doctor is presented with information about the proper dosage in a matter of seconds.  At Corpus Christi, Dr. Nelson and his colleagues have found this method of retrieving information particularly helpful with residents, who may call up the information and have it ready for them when they see a patient.

     The doctor points out that there are thousands of drugs available in our day, and doctors are expected to remember all of these drugs, in addition to their dosing guidelines and interactions.  This is a virtually impossible task for the average human mind.  There could be 600 drugs related to kidney function, for example.  Dr. Nelson himself cannot remember all of them and their interactions, “especially with the ever-increasing pace of FDA approvals.”  Having all of this information in the palm of his hand, that is, on the PDA, relieves the medical practitioners of the worry to memorize all the names, in addition to the information connected with the names of the drugs, such as their interaction.  Even those doctors who rely on their memory bank for information on drugs, can double check their decisions at the point of care before they write out prescriptions, using the PDA.

     Skyscrape has gone beyond its usual reference books to be downloaded onto the PDA to include and integrate latest news and information from medical journals, newsletters, as well as FDA alerts with other references for the PDA.  Seeing that medical science is progressing today with great speed, it is essential for doctors to be informed about the latest in their field.

Dr. Nelson finds that there are two free Skyscrape ARTbeat channels that he mostly reviews during his downtime at the hospital: MedWatch consists of FDA drug alerts in addition to recalls; and CDC Spotlight highlights new information from the Centers for Disease Control.  The doctor has been able to help his patients with news on his PDA.  And, countless other doctors are now using the same method of information retrieval to help their patients.  According to Dr. Nelson, “I’m convinced that PDAs are the right software solutions to help physicians provide better care.”


  1. Havenstein, Heather. (2005, May 15). PDA Gives Health Wireless Adoption Lead. Computer World. Retrieved from http://www.computerworld.com.au/index.php/id;565747151;fp;16;fpid;0. (17 March 2007).

  1. Nelson, Darrick. (2005, February). More than a pocketful of knowledge: a family practice group uses integrated mobile technology at the point of care to improve decision-making and patient care. Health Management Technology.

  1. Pasupathy, Kandasamy. (2006, July). Knowledge management in long-term care: what you need to know; “A little knowledge that acts is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle.” Nursing Homes.

  1. PDA Causing Medical Revolution. (2007). MedIndia. Retrieved from http://www.medindia.net/pda/pda_medical_revolution.htm. (17 March 2007).

  1. Torre, D. M., and S. M. Wright. (2003). Clinical and educational uses of handheld computers. Southern Medical Journal, 96:996–999.

  1. Venessa, and Sunil Shroff. (2007). History of PDA. MedIndia. Retrieved from http://www.medindia.net/pda/pda_history.htm. (17 March 2007).

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