Joanna is a third-year medical student who has recently started her clerkship rotation in internal medicine. During her first night on call, her senior resident calls her to the emergency department to assess a 54-year-old man with a history of ulcerative colitis who presents with fatigue, heart palpitations and presyncope. From her lectures in medical school, Joanna recalls the basic features of inflammatory bowel disease. She is anxious because she has never encountered a patient with the condition. Which software resources can she use on her handheld computer to look after her patient?
Dr. Edwards is a family physician with a busy practice in northern Ontario. He is working a shift at the local community hospital's emergency department during a long weekend when an 8-year-old girl is brought in by her parents. She has a high fever, diffuse maculopapular rash and marked lip edema. He is concerned about Kawasaki disease. However, he recognizes that his patient is older than the typical age group affected by this condition and wonders about other possibilities. A consultation with the local pediatrician would be helpful, but she is away on holiday. Dr. Edwards is uncertain about starting therapy for Kawasaki disease. How can he use his handheld computer to help manage his patient?
In an earlier article, we reviewed the hardware options and buying considerations of physicians interested in handheld computers.1 More than a quarter of Canadian physicians currently use a personal digital assistant (PDA),2 and it has been estimated that that number will increase to more than half within the next 2 years.3 Much of the excitement involves the ever-growing library of medical software. With hundreds of titles to choose from, the task of finding the right software can be overwhelming. Although brief overviews of widely used software titles have appeared,4,5,6 the aim of this article is to provide an updated and extended summary of some of the more widely used programs, in order to help practitioners find software resources that are most appropriate to their needs. As in our earlier article, this article focuses on software titles available for handheld computers that run the Palm Operating System (OS). Many popular programs discussed in this review are also available for other operating systems, such as Microsoft Pocket PC. Software titles were selected for analysis after reviewing relevant software Web sites and the medical literature.