Palm Pilot Use by Physicians on the Rise

Review suggests Palm Pilots may change the way health care is delivered

FRIDAY, Sept. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Personal digital assistants (PDAs) are used by roughly half of the physicians in the United States and other developed countries, and they could change the way health care is delivered in the future, according to a review in the Oct. 1 issue of The Lancet.

Daniel Baumgart, M.D., of Virchow Hospital, Humboldt-University of Berlin, notes that many professional societies and health care agencies offer policy recommendations and guidelines in a form that can be downloaded to PDAs. Some of the leading universities in the United States now provide junior doctors with PDAs and software bundles.

"PDAs can replace bulky drug reference books and help with the selection and comparison of drugs, identification of dosing schedules and dose adjustment when drug excretion is impaired," Baumgart writes. A recent survey of pediatricians who were PDA users suggests that 80% used them for drug reference, 67% for scheduling, 61% for medical calculation, 8% for prescription writing and 4% for billing.

In the future, PDAs may provide access to imaging information such as CT, MRIs and PET scans, and allow users to share opinions on patients with colleagues. However, "no computer system can ever replace dedicated, experienced clinicians and their empathic interaction with patients and families," he concludes.

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