Medical PDAs


Personal digital assistant's (PDAs) are handheld devices that combine computing, cellular phone service, Internet, and networking features. A typical PDA can function as a cellular phone, Web browser, text messenger and personal organizer. Today the idea of the "PDA" is almost completely gone and are usually referred to as Ultra portable devices or just mobile devices. Smartphones have become what PDAs used to be with major brands surfacing such as the iPhone by Apple and the Blackberry. No longer are styli used, instead capacitive screens activated by the user's touch controls the device. They can now access the internet from anywhere there is cellular phone service granting them ultra portability. They have also evolved into a more modular form, allowing continual firmware updates for the hardware as well as third party developed applications that will run natively. These have come to be called "apps".


  • Physicians have more time to do more direct patient care
    • Recording of patient data,
    • Look up of medical references on the go, not restricted to an office if the situation arises.
    • Communication with other healthcare professionals will become easier and quicker for the physician
    • Transfer relevant data
    • Improve patient/doctor communication
    • Prevent medical documentation errors

  • Digitizing information files ultimately quickens the storage and retrieval of information, as well as its availability and retrieveability.
  • Doctors can ultimately use these devices as a way to learn more about evidence-based medicine, as well as make it more accessible.
  • A doctor can access evidence-based medicine in the palm of his hand whenever necessary, even while consulting a patient.
  • The mobile device can be customized for different medical specialties. There is more offered in customization for a mobile computer then a desktop computer and traditional electronic medical records
  • Doctors look more professional as tech savvy people. Read:


The largest problem with Medical PDAs is that many medical facilities do not have integrated EMRs so the EMR would need to be created first before any type of external software can have direct entry and access of patient data:
  • Older professionals may not be comfortable with technology or the device
  • Other usability issues might include:
    • Limited battery power - This is mostly rectified, most mobile devices have very long battery life these days and charge extremely quickly, usually almost full from dead within half an hour.
    • Limited memory - Most have built memory of 8GB or more, with some having the option to add in memory cards. Also, most information is not stored locally on the device, so it wouldn't really matter anyway.
    • Perceived fragility - Otterbox protector cases can protect against most mishaps and even when a device does break, refer to the above.
    • Screen size - Mobile devices have the ability to magnify screens quickly and efficiently.
    • Difficulty with data entry - The Mobile device isn't the be all end all, it is a quick fix on the go for when you can't get to a computer. Data entry won't be as efficient on a mobile device but it will serve its purpose.


Medical apps can be used for:
  • Decision support to access patient information
  • Medical calculation
  • Medical reference
  • Electronic textbooks
  • Clinical computational programs
  • Real-time information access
  • Diagnostic data management
  • Laboratory result retrieval
  • Internet access to resources

Medical apps can also be used for Administrative Support:
  • Scheduling
  • Billing
  • Invoice capturing and tracking
  • Reimbursement
  • Data collection for tracking and analyzing services and communications
  • Physician note generation
  • Dictation
  • Charting
  • Printing

Web Resources - - -

Related Terminology:

  • Electronic Medical Records
  • Mobile Software
  • Mobile Learning
  • Smartphones
  • Tablet PC
  • iPhone Apps
  • Blackberry Apps
  • Palm Pre


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