Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) for Clinical Teams: Lessons Learned from Pilot Studies in a Scottish Teaching Hospital

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Background: Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) or hand held computers, are increasingly used as clinical support tools, including in the UK. ¹ St John’s Hospital, Livingston, is amongst the first Scottish hospitals to pilot this technology for comprehensive bedside use or ‘point of care’. The aim of this presentation is to present results of two short pilot studies trialing contrasting hardware models. Pilot studies in 2004 and 2007 readied first cradle-based and then wireless PDAs for ‘point of care use’ incorporating various applications.Clinical applications included Patient lists and plans and Laboratory results. Education applications included E-portfolio for junior doctors and E-library. Information applications included Clinical guidelines, Hospital policies, Laboratory information, Clinical evidence, MEDLINE, Medical handbooks, Information for patients, Treatment procedures, Drug formularies: British National Formulary (BNF); local drug formulary. Participants were provided with a PDA each. Methods of evaluation included pre and post intervention surveys, usage statistics, follow-up interviews. Participants saw scope for use of PDAs in clinical practice and reported using them mainly for clinical rather than educational purposes. However, technical drawbacks to both the cradle-based and wireless hardware hampered usage. Provision of comprehensive ‘point of care’ computing is challenging and requires adequate time and resources.


Keywords: Personal Digital Computers (PDAs), Clinical Teams, Point of Care
Stream: Human Technologies and Usability
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Personal Digital Assistants for Clinical Teams, ,


Dr. Jo Vallis

Research Officer, Research, NHS Education for Scotland (NES)
Edinburgh, Lothian, UK

I am a Social Scientist with a Nurse/Nurse Teaching background. My PhD was in the field of Medical Sociology and concerned consumers' views of the extended role of the community pharmacist. My postdoctoral experience includes health services research contracts surrounding e.g. processes of care of hip fracture patients and ethics and end-of-life decision-making for elderly people. I currently work in postgraduate medical/health professional education and am involved in multiple projects surrounding continuing education of health professionals e.g. evaluation of new training programmes for 'out of hours' emergency care practitioners and General Practice Managers. I am currently developing new research surrounding 'age as asset' in NHS Scotland. This concerns retention of valuable health professional expertise following retirement.

Ref: T08P0131