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Palmtop Information Technology Sets a New Medical Standard

Palmtop Information Technology Sets a New Medical Standard

According to a 1990 AMA report, less than 50% of all doctors used any type of computer in their practice. About 85% of doctors using a computer employed it for financial processing of patient accounts. A relatively small number of physicians utilize computer information technology during actual patient contact when most medical care is prescribed. It is at this point that the technology could have a very beneficial impact on patient care.

The basic nature of most physicians is in conflict with the concept of centering their work around a computer terminal/workstation. Physicians are more likely to focus on the doctor-patient interaction. Since most physicians are quite mobile, seeing patients in various rooms, clinics, hospitals and hallways, a mobile palmtop computer has a great advantage over one that was "wired down."

Given that a palmtop computer will be used during patient contact, the software used must be simple, efficient, user friendly, and coexist seamlessly with other software, especially the BUILT-IN applications.

BUILT-IN SOFTWARE ON THE HP PALMTOP PC Using the built-in software as the basis of a medical application has some benefits. PHONE on the HP 95LX and Data Base on the HP 100LX afford the following significant advantages:

  1. 1. Use the medical database files "as is" without having to learn any new software.
  2. 2. Additional data and notes can be added when needed. The contents can be exported/imported to/from other database programs, a capability lacking in many proprietary medical databases.
  3. 3. An open and modifiable medical database is much less expensive, and more likely to become widely used.
The medical databases in FP Tools and MEDSTF.ZIP <ON DISK ICON> were formatted according to the BUILT-IN HP 95LX PHONE, Lotus 1-2-3 and FILER applications.

[MED100.ZIP <ON DISK ICON>, an HP 100LX version of MEDSTF, is also available along with MEDNDB .ZIP <ON DISK ICON>, a NoteTaker (.NDB) file containing notes on about 150 different subjects in Clinical medicine. See Medical Products, page 36 this issue.]

FUTURE PALMTOP INNOVATIONS

As Palmtop technology advances, the following capabilities may enhance its usefulness and promote its spread in the medical profession:

  1. 1. Incorporate an additional card slot into the Palmtop so that large volumes of data are accessible, with the RAM card, modem card, or network card in place.
  2. 2. Add voice recognition to accept verbal commands for computer operations and dictation capabilities.
  3. 3. Include BUILT-IN pager circuitry. Since most physicians (and many non-physicians) carry pagers, a Palmtop enhanced with this capability will become an essential professional accessory (see Access Card, page 6). Adding two-way BUILT-IN radio communication would create true "hands free" mobility.
  4. 4. Simplify connectivity with existing hospital/clinic systems. The ability to extract medical information from a larger system by plugging in and pressing hotkeys can be quite useful.
For example, the log on and log off procedure for a Patient Profile System I recently worked with required approximately 52 keystrokes and 13 screen changes. In addition, the only way to get a hard copy of the information was to make a lengthy printout from a remote printer site. Complex access procedures significantly limit utilization of useful patient summaries.

Fortunately, I was able to streamline the procedure with the HP Palmtops built-in macro feature. Additionally, I was able to capture the patient summary and load it into MEMO for later reference, instead of carrying around a printout.

James G. Ard, D.O. San Diego CA, USA

iPhone Life magazine


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