Study: Early literature on PDA effectiveness in hospitals is inconclusive

It's fair to say a good many hospital-based users of mobile devices believe handheld gadgets truly do improve workflow and likely have a positive impact on patient safety. But the scientific literature has been lacking. After publication of a study in the December issue of the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, the literature still doesn't fully support that hypothesis.

"The study findings support claims of the potential beneficial impact of this technology on aspects of healthcare delivery. However, the extent to which handheld devices provide benefits due to their mobility has been significantly underinvestigated," three health informatics researchers at the University of Sydney write in JAMIA.

Notably, they examined 13 studies of the effectiveness of personal digital assistants to address three key areas: rapid response by hospital physicians, prevention of medication errors and easy, accessible data management. But all those papers were published between 2000 and 2006, before smartphones gained a foothold in medicine. The Sydney researchers believe that their three-part framework, based on the health IT-related work of Harvard patient-safety notables Dr. David Bates and Dr. Atul Gawande, will be able to inform future research.

To learn more:
- read the full study in JAMIA