A large majority of physicians who use personal digital assistants say that the handheld devices have a positive effect on practice efficiency, quality of care and error prevention, though most operate their PDAs independently, with little connectivity with other computer systems, according to a vendor survey.
Of the more than 800 physicians responding to the survey from Skyscape, a Hudson, Mass.-based developer of mobile software for healthcare, 89% report that their PDAs have helped them gain efficiencies in their practice and 88% say that they can provide better care in less time when using a handheld computer.
About two-thirds indicate that they provide more care in less time with the help of PDAs, although only about 41% say that PDA usage has enabled an increase in the number of patients they can treat per day or per week.
The efficiency gains are not at the expense of safety, however. According to the survey, only 13% of physician PDA users say that the devices have not reduced the number of potential medical errors, while half report a decrease of 4% or more in potential mistakes.
Most of the respondents say that they have multiple software references on their PDAs, with the most popular applications being drug and clinical reference tools-though more physicians still use PDAs to store personal information. The latter finding is in line with the results of the 2003 Modern Physician/PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of key information technology issues for physician executives.
While 21% of Skyscape survey participants have PDAs integrated with formulary information, 62% say that their PDAs are not integrated with any other electronic application, including billing software. More than eight in 10 do not experience tighter integration with hospital IT infrastructure by virtue of their PDAs, according to Skyscape.