Study Examines Use Of Wireless And Handhelds At Patients’ Bedside

Study Examines Use Of Wireless And Handhelds At Patients’ Bedside

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(NC)-Researchers are investigating the use of wireless technology and handheld computers to bring quality information about treatment and diagnosis to physicians at the bedside and in the examining room. Earlier research found that when physicians are given the opportunity to request information at the bedside, they used it extensively and it made a difference in their delivery of healthcare by providing more accurate diagnosis and treatment information.
This project is one of many initiatives of the Bell University Laboratories, a unique collaborative research program, funded by Bell Canada, that encourages innovation through collaboration in the development of communications technology in Canada.
The project is studying what information hospital and community-based physicians need when they are administering care to patients. The investigators are also studying the ideal format for delivering the information on mobile computers and to determine if the use of handheld devices can improve patient care and prescribing procedures in clinical and hospital settings. For example, the technology would allow physicians using a mobile computer to access information about possible drug interaction when writing a prescription at a patient’s bedside.
“The bottom line for us is, what gets delivered to the physician is not just information, but information that we have determined to be the best that’s available,” said Dr. Lawrence Spero, laboratory manager at Bell University Health Communication Labs.
During the course of this study, a variety of wireless devices have been tested, including RIM Blackberry handhelds, as well as both the Palm Pilot and iPAQ computers. Testing will continue using other devices including the Xybernaut, a wearable computer that can boost a user’s productivity by almost an hour per day. Currently, the research is academic, so no patients have been involved with the devices. The researchers plan to move the study into a hospital setting within a year.