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1.  Prospective evaluation of an internet-linked handheld computer critical care knowledge access system 
Critical Care  2004;8(6):R414-R421.
Introduction
Critical care physicians may benefit from immediate access to medical reference material. We evaluated the feasibility and potential benefits of a handheld computer based knowledge access system linking a central academic intensive care unit (ICU) to multiple community-based ICUs.
Methods
Four community hospital ICUs with 17 physicians participated in this prospective interventional study. Following training in the use of an internet-linked, updateable handheld computer knowledge access system, the physicians used the handheld devices in their clinical environment for a 12-month intervention period. Feasibility of the system was evaluated by tracking use of the handheld computer and by conducting surveys and focus group discussions. Before and after the intervention period, participants underwent simulated patient care scenarios designed to evaluate the information sources they accessed, as well as the speed and quality of their decision making. Participants generated admission orders during each scenario, which were scored by blinded evaluators.
Results
Ten physicians (59%) used the system regularly, predominantly for nonmedical applications (median 32.8/month, interquartile range [IQR] 28.3–126.8), with medical software accessed less often (median 9/month, IQR 3.7–13.7). Eight out of 13 physicians (62%) who completed the final scenarios chose to use the handheld computer for information access. The median time to access information on the handheld handheld computer was 19 s (IQR 15–40 s). This group exhibited a significant improvement in admission order score as compared with those who used other resources (P = 0.018). Benefits and barriers to use of this technology were identified.
Conclusion
An updateable handheld computer system is feasible as a means of point-of-care access to medical reference material and may improve clinical decision making. However, during the study, acceptance of the system was variable. Improved training and new technology may overcome some of the barriers we identified.
doi:10.1186/cc2967
PMCID: PMC1065064  PMID: 15566586
clinical; computer; critical care; decision support systems; handheld; internet; point-of-care systems; practice guidelines; simulation
2.  Evidence of Effectiveness of Health Care Professionals Using Handheld Computers: A Scoping Review of Systematic Reviews 
Background
Handheld computers and mobile devices provide instant access to vast amounts and types of useful information for health care professionals. Their reduced size and increased processing speed has led to rapid adoption in health care. Thus, it is important to identify whether handheld computers are actually effective in clinical practice.
Objective
A scoping review of systematic reviews was designed to provide a quick overview of the documented evidence of effectiveness for health care professionals using handheld computers in their clinical work.
Methods
A detailed search, sensitive for systematic reviews was applied for Cochrane, Medline, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Allied and Complementary Medicine Database (AMED), Global Health, and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) databases. All outcomes that demonstrated effectiveness in clinical practice were included. Classroom learning and patient use of handheld computers were excluded. Quality was assessed using the Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews (AMSTAR) tool. A previously published conceptual framework was used as the basis for dual data extraction. Reported outcomes were summarized according to the primary function of the handheld computer.
Results
Five systematic reviews met the inclusion and quality criteria. Together, they reviewed 138 unique primary studies. Most reviewed descriptive intervention studies, where physicians, pharmacists, or medical students used personal digital assistants. Effectiveness was demonstrated across four distinct functions of handheld computers: patient documentation, patient care, information seeking, and professional work patterns. Within each of these functions, a range of positive outcomes were reported using both objective and self-report measures. The use of handheld computers improved patient documentation through more complete recording, fewer documentation errors, and increased efficiency. Handheld computers provided easy access to clinical decision support systems and patient management systems, which improved decision making for patient care. Handheld computers saved time and gave earlier access to new information. There were also reports that handheld computers enhanced work patterns and efficiency.
Conclusions
This scoping review summarizes the secondary evidence for effectiveness of handheld computers and mhealth. It provides a snapshot of effective use by health care professionals across four key functions. We identified evidence to suggest that handheld computers provide easy and timely access to information and enable accurate and complete documentation. Further, they can give health care professionals instant access to evidence-based decision support and patient management systems to improve clinical decision making. Finally, there is evidence that handheld computers allow health professionals to be more efficient in their work practices. It is anticipated that this evidence will guide clinicians and managers in implementing handheld computers in clinical practice and in designing future research.
doi:10.2196/jmir.2530
PMCID: PMC3841346  PMID: 24165786
handheld computers; mobile devices; mhealth; PDA; information seeking behavior; evidence-based practice; delivery of health care; clinical practice; health technology adoption; diffusion of innovation; systematic review; evidence synthesis; documentation
3.  Doctors' experience with handheld computers in clinical practice: qualitative study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2004;328(7449):1162.
Objective To examine doctors' perspectives about their experiences with handheld computers in clinical practice.
Design Qualitative study of eight focus groups consisting of doctors with diverse training and practice patterns.
Setting Six practice settings across the United States and two additional focus group sessions held at a national meeting of general internists.
Participants 54 doctors who did or did not use handheld computers.
Results Doctors who used handheld computers in clinical practice seemed generally satisfied with them and reported diverse patterns of use. Users perceived that the devices helped them increase productivity and improve patient care. Barriers to use concerned the device itself and personal and perceptual constraints, with perceptual factors such as comfort with technology, preference for paper, and the impression that the devices are not easy to use somewhat difficult to overcome. Participants suggested that organisations can help promote handheld computers by providing advice on purchase, usage, training, and user support. Participants expressed concern about reliability and security of the device but were particularly concerned about dependency on the device and over-reliance as a substitute for clinical thinking.
Conclusions Doctors expect handheld computers to become more useful, and most seem interested in leveraging (getting the most value from) their use. Key opportunities with handheld computers included their use as a stepping stone to build doctors' comfort with other information technology and ehealth initiatives and providing point of care support that helps improve patient care.
PMCID: PMC411090  PMID: 15142920
4.  Use of handheld computers in clinical practice: a systematic review 
Background
Many healthcare professionals use smartphones and tablets to inform patient care. Contemporary research suggests that handheld computers may support aspects of clinical diagnosis and management. This systematic review was designed to synthesise high quality evidence to answer the question; Does healthcare professionals’ use of handheld computers improve their access to information and support clinical decision making at the point of care?
Methods
A detailed search was conducted using Cochrane, MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Science and Social Science Citation Indices since 2001. Interventions promoting healthcare professionals seeking information or making clinical decisions using handheld computers were included. Classroom learning and the use of laptop computers were excluded. Two authors independently selected studies, assessed quality using the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool and extracted data. High levels of data heterogeneity negated statistical synthesis. Instead, evidence for effectiveness was summarised narratively, according to each study’s aim for assessing the impact of handheld computer use.
Results
We included seven randomised trials investigating medical or nursing staffs’ use of Personal Digital Assistants. Effectiveness was demonstrated across three distinct functions that emerged from the data: accessing information for clinical knowledge, adherence to guidelines and diagnostic decision making. When healthcare professionals used handheld computers to access clinical information, their knowledge improved significantly more than peers who used paper resources. When clinical guideline recommendations were presented on handheld computers, clinicians made significantly safer prescribing decisions and adhered more closely to recommendations than peers using paper resources. Finally, healthcare professionals made significantly more appropriate diagnostic decisions using clinical decision making tools on handheld computers compared to colleagues who did not have access to these tools. For these clinical decisions, the numbers need to test/screen were all less than 11.
Conclusion
Healthcare professionals’ use of handheld computers may improve their information seeking, adherence to guidelines and clinical decision making. Handheld computers can provide real time access to and analysis of clinical information. The integration of clinical decision support systems within handheld computers offers clinicians the highest level of synthesised evidence at the point of care. Future research is needed to replicate these early results and to identify beneficial clinical outcomes.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-14-56
PMCID: PMC4099138  PMID: 24998515
Handheld computers; Smartphone; Information-seeking behaviour; Evidence-based practice; Knowledge translation; Clinical decision support systems; Clinical guidelines; Diagnostic decision making
5.  Airway Clearance Devices for Cystic Fibrosis 
Executive Summary
Objective
The purpose of this evidence-based analysis is to examine the safety and efficacy of airway clearance devices (ACDs) for cystic fibrosis and attempt to differentiate between devices, where possible, on grounds of clinical efficacy, quality of life, safety and/or patient preference.
Background
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a common, inherited, life-limiting disease that affects multiple systems of the human body. Respiratory dysfunction is the primary complication and leading cause of death due to CF. CF causes abnormal mucus secretion in the airways, leading to airway obstruction and mucus plugging, which in turn can lead to bacterial infection and further mucous production. Over time, this almost cyclical process contributes to severe airway damage and loss of respiratory function. Removal of airway secretions, termed airway clearance, is thus an integral component of the management of CF.
A variety of methods are available for airway clearance, some requiring mechanical devices, others physical manipulation of the body (e.g. physiotherapy). Conventional chest physiotherapy (CCPT), through the assistance of a caregiver, is the current standard of care for achieving airway clearance, particularly in young patients up to the ages of six or seven. CF patients are, however, living much longer now than in decades past. The median age of survival in Canada has risen to 37.0 years for the period of 1998-2002 (5-year window), up from 22.8 years for the 5-year window ending in 1977. The prevalence has also risen accordingly, last recorded as 3,453 in Canada in 2002, up from 1,630 in 1977. With individuals living longer, there is a greater need for independent methods of airway clearance.
Airway Clearance Devices
There are at least three classes of airway clearance devices: positive expiratory pressure devices (PEP), airway oscillating devices (AOD; either handheld or stationary) and high frequency chest compression (HFCC)/mechanical percussion (MP) devices. Within these classes are numerous different brands of devices from various manufacturers, each with subtle iterations. At least 10 devices are licensed by Health Canada (ranging from Class 1 to Class 3 devices).
Evidence-Based Analysis of Effectiveness
Research Questions
Does long-term use of ACDs improve outcomes of interest in comparison to CCPT in patients with CF?
Does long-term use of one class of ACD improve outcomes of interest in comparison to another class of ACD in CF patients?
Literature Search
A comprehensive literature search was performed on March 7, 2009 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from January 1, 1950 to March 7, 2009.
Inclusion Criteria
All randomized controlled trials including those of parallel and crossover design,
Systematic reviews and/or meta-analyses. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs), systematic reviews and meta-analyses
Exclusion Criteria
Abstracts were generally excluded because their methods could not be examined; however, abstract data was included in several Cochrane meta-analyses presented in this paper;
Studies of less than seven days duration (including single treatment studies);
Studies that did not report primary outcomes;
Studies in which less than 10 patients completed the study.
Outcomes of Interest
Primary outcomes under review were percent-predicted forced expiratory volume (FEV-1), forced vital capacity (FVC), and forced expiratory flow between 25%-75% (FEF25-75). Secondary outcomes included number of hospitalizations, adherence, patient preference, quality of life and adverse events. All outcomes were decided a priori.
Summary of Findings
Literature searching and back-searching identified 13 RCTs meeting the inclusion criteria, along with three Cochrane systematic reviews. The Cochrane reviews were identified in preliminary searching and used as the basis for formulating this review. Results were subgrouped by comparison and according to the available literature. For example, results from Cochrane meta-analyses included abstract data and therefore, additional meta-analyses were also performed on trials reported as full publications only (MAS generally excludes abstracted data when full publications are available as the methodological quality of trials reported in abstract cannot be properly assessed).
Executive Summary Table 1 summarizes the results across all comparisons and subgroupings for primary outcomes of pulmonary function. Only two comparisons yielded evidence of moderate or high quality according to GRADE criteria–the comparisons of CCPT vs. PEP and handheld AOD vs. PEP–but only the comparison of CCPT vs. PEP noted a significant difference between treatment groups. In comparison to CCPT, there was a significant difference in favour of PEP for % predicted FEV-1 and FVC according to one long-term, parallel RCT. This trial was accepted as the best available evidence for the comparison. The body of evidence for the remaining comparisons was low to very low, according to GRADE criteria, being downgraded most often because of poor methodological quality and low generalizability. Specifically, trials were likely not adequately powered (low sample sizes), did not conduct intention-to-treat analyses, were conducted primarily in children and young adolescents, and outdated (conducted more than 10 years ago).
Secondary outcomes were poorly or inconsistently reported, and were generally not of value to decision-making. Of note, there were a significantly higher number of hospitalizations among participants undergoing AOD therapy in comparison to PEP therapy.
Summarization of results for primary outcomes by comparison and subgroupings
Bolding indicates significant difference
Positive summary statistics favour the former intervention
Abbreviations: AOD, airway oscillating device; CCPT, conventional chest physiotherapy; CI, confidence interval; HFCC, high frequency chest compression; MP, mechanical percussion; N/A: not applicable; PEP, positive expiratory pressure
Economic Analysis
Devices ranged in cost from around $60 for PEP and handheld AODs to upwards of $18,000 for a HFCC vest device. Although the majority of device costs are paid out-of-pocket by the patients themselves, their parents, or covered by third-party medical insurance, Ontario did provide funding assistance through the Assistive Devices Program (ADP) for postural drainage boards and MP devices. These technologies, however, are either obsolete or their clinical efficacy is not supported by evidence. ADP provided roughly $16,000 in funding for the 2008/09 fiscal year. Using device costs and prevalent and incident cases of CF in Ontario, budget impact projections were generated for Ontario. Prevalence of CF in Ontario for patients from ages 6 to 71 was cited as 1,047 cases in 2002 while incidence was estimated at 46 new cases of CF diagnosed per year in 2002. Budget impact projections indicated that PEP and handheld AODs were highly economically feasible costing around $90,000 for the entire prevalent population and less than $3,000 per year to cover new incident cases. HFCC vest devices were by far the most expensive, costing in excess of $19 million to cover the prevalent population alone.
Conclusions
There is currently a lack of sufficiently powered, long-term, parallel randomized controlled trials investigating the use of ACDs in comparison to other airway clearance techniques. While much of the current evidence suggests no significant difference between various ACDs and alternative therapies/technologies, at least according to outcomes of pulmonary function, there is a strong possibility that past trials were not sufficiently powered to identify a difference. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that there will be any future trials comparing ACDs to CCPT as withholding therapy using an ACD may be seen as unethical at present.
Conclusions of clinical effectiveness are as follows:
Moderate quality evidence suggests that PEP is at least as effective as or more effective than CCPT, according to primary outcomes of pulmonary function.
Moderate quality evidence suggests that there is no significant difference between PEP and handheld AODs, according to primary outcomes of pulmonary function; however, secondary outcomes may favour PEP.
Low quality evidence suggests that there is no significant difference between AODs or HFCC/MP and CCPT, according to both primary and secondary outcomes.
Very low quality evidence suggests that there is no significant difference between handheld AOD and CCPT, according to primary outcomes of pulmonary function.
Budget impact projections show PEP and handheld AODs to be highly economically feasible.
PMCID: PMC3377547  PMID: 23074531
6.  Clinician Use of a Palmtop Drug Reference Guide 
Objective: Problems involving drug knowledge are one of the most common causes of serious medication errors. Although the information that clinicians need is often available somewhere, retrieving it expeditiously has been problematic. At the same time, clinicians are faced with an ever-expanding pharmacology knowledge base. Recently, point-of-care technology has become more widely available and more practical with the advent of handheld, or palmtop, computing. Therefore, the authors evaluated the clinical contribution of a drug database developed for the handheld computer. ePocrates Rx (formerly known as qRx; ePocrates, San Carlos, California) is a comprehensive drug information guide that is downloadable free from the Internet and designed for the Palm OS platform align="right".
Design: A seven-day online survey of 3,000 randomly selected ePocrates Rx users was conducted during March 2000.
Measurements: User technology experience, product evaluation and usage patterns, and the effects of the drug reference database on information-seeking behavior, practice efficiency, decision making, and patient care.
Results: The survey response rate was 32 percent (n=946). Physicians reported that ePocrates Rx saves time during information retrieval, is easily incorporated into their usual workflow, and improves drug-related decision making. They also felt that it reduced the rate of preventable adverse drug events.
Conclusions: Self-reported perceptions by responding clinicians endorse improved access to drug information and improved practice efficiency associated with the use of handheld devices. The clinical and practical value of using these devices in clinical settings will clearly grow further as wireless communication becomes more ubiquitous and as more applications become available.
doi:10.1197/jamia.M1001
PMCID: PMC344582  PMID: 11971883
7.  Critical care procedure logging using handheld computers 
Critical Care  2004;8(5):R336-R342.
Introduction
We conducted this study to evaluate the feasibility of implementing an internet-linked handheld computer procedure logging system in a critical care training program.
Methods
Subspecialty trainees in the Interdepartmental Division of Critical Care at the University of Toronto received and were trained in the use of Palm handheld computers loaded with a customized program for logging critical care procedures. The procedures were entered into the handheld device using checkboxes and drop-down lists, and data were uploaded to a central database via the internet. To evaluate the feasibility of this system, we tracked the utilization of this data collection system. Benefits and disadvantages were assessed through surveys.
Results
All 11 trainees successfully uploaded data to the central database, but only six (55%) continued to upload data on a regular basis. The most common reason cited for not using the system pertained to initial technical problems with data uploading. From 1 July 2002 to 30 June 2003, a total of 914 procedures were logged. Significant variability was noted in the number of procedures logged by individual trainees (range 13–242). The database generated by regular users provided potentially useful information to the training program director regarding the scope and location of procedural training among the different rotations and hospitals.
Conclusion
A handheld computer procedure logging system can be effectively used in a critical care training program. However, user acceptance was not uniform, and continued training and support are required to increase user acceptance. Such a procedure database may provide valuable information that may be used to optimize trainees' educational experience and to document clinical training experience for licensing and accreditation.
doi:10.1186/cc2921
PMCID: PMC1065023  PMID: 15469577
critical care; handheld computers; internet; procedure logging; training program
8.  Handheld Computer Use in U.S. Family Practice Residency Programs 
Objective: The purpose of the study was to evaluate the uses of handheld computers (also called personal digital assistants, or PDAs) in family practice residency programs in the United States.
Study Design: In November 2000, the authors mailed a questionnaire to the program directors of all American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and American College of Osteopathic Family Practice (ACOFP) residency programs in the United States.
Measurements: Data and patterns of the use and non-use of handheld computers were identified.
Results: Approximately 50 percent (306 of 610) of the programs responded to the survey. Two thirds of the programs reported that handheld computers were used in their residencies, and an additional 14 percent had plans for implementation within 24 months. Both the Palm and the Windows CE operating systems were used, with the Palm operating system the most common. Military programs had the highest rate of use (8 of 10 programs, 80 percent), and osteopathic programs had the lowest (23 of 55 programs, 42 percent). Of programs that reported handheld computer use, 45 percent had required handheld computer applications that are used uniformly by all users. Funding for handheld computers and related applications was non-budgeted in 76percent of the programs in which handheld computers were used. In programs providing a budget for handheld computers, the average annual budget per user was $461.58. Interested faculty or residents, rather than computer information services personnel, performed upkeep and maintenance of handheld computers in 72 percent of the programs in which the computers are used. In addition to the installed calendar, memo pad, and address book, the most common clinical uses of handheld computers in the programs were as medication reference tools, electronic textbooks, and clinical computational or calculator-type programs.
Conclusions: Handheld computers are widely used in family practice residency programs in the United States. Although handheld computers were designed as electronic organizers, in family practice residencies they are used as medication reference tools, electronic textbooks, and clinical computational programs and to track activities that were previously associated with desktop database applications.
PMCID: PMC349390  PMID: 11751806
9.  Handheld vs. Laptop Computers for Electronic Data Collection in Clinical Research: A Crossover Randomized Trial 
Objective
To compare users' speed, number of entry errors and satisfaction in using two current devices for electronic data collection in clinical research: handheld and laptop computers.
Design
The authors performed a randomized cross-over trial using 160 different paper-based questionnaires and representing altogether 45,440 variables. Four data coders were instructed to record, according to a random predefined and equally balanced sequence, the content of these questionnaires either on a laptop or on a handheld computer. Instructions on the kind of device to be used were provided to data-coders in individual sealed and opaque envelopes. Study conditions were controlled and the data entry process performed in a quiet environment.
Measurements
The authors compared the duration of the data recording process, the number of errors and users' satisfaction with the two devices. The authors divided errors into two separate categories, typing and missing data errors. The original paper-based questionnaire was used as a gold-standard.
Results
The overall duration of the recording process was significantly reduced (2.0 versus 3.3 min) when data were recorded on the laptop computer (p < 0.001). Data accuracy also improved. There were 5.8 typing errors per 1,000 entries with the laptop compared to 8.4 per 1,000 with the handheld computer (p < 0.001). The difference was even more important for missing data which decreased from 22.8 to 2.9 per 1,000 entries when a laptop was used (p < 0.001). Users found the laptop easier, faster and more satisfying to use than the handheld computer.
Conclusions
Despite the increasing use of handheld computers for electronic data collection in clinical research, these devices should be used with caution. They double the duration of the data entry process and significantly increase the risk of typing errors and missing data. This may become a particularly crucial issue in studies where these devices are provided to patients or healthcare workers, unfamiliar with Computer Technologies, for self-reporting or research data collection processes.
doi:10.1197/jamia.M3041
PMCID: PMC2744716  PMID: 19567799
10.  Pharmacist Computer Skills and Needs Assessment Survey 
Background
To use technology effectively for the advancement of patient care, pharmacists must possess a variety of computer skills. We recently introduced a novel applied informatics program in this Canadian hospital clinical service unit to enhance the informatics skills of our members.
Objective
This study was conducted to gain a better understanding of the baseline computer skills and needs of our hospital pharmacists immediately prior to the implementation of an applied informatics program.
Methods
In May 2001, an 84-question written survey was distributed by mail to 106 practicing hospital pharmacists in our multi-site, 1500-bed, acute-adult-tertiary care Canadian teaching hospital in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Results
Fifty-eight surveys (55% of total) were returned within the two-week study period. The survey responses reflected the opinions of licensed BSc and PharmD hospital pharmacists with a broad range of pharmacy practice experience. Most respondents had home access to personal computers, and regularly used computers in the work environment for drug distribution, information management, and communication purposes. Few respondents reported experience with handheld computers. Software use experience varied according to application. Although patient-care information software and e-mail were commonly used, experience with spreadsheet, statistical, and presentation software was negligible. The respondents were familiar with Internet search engines, and these were reported to be the most common method of seeking clinical information online. Although many respondents rated themselves as being generally computer literate and not particularly anxious about using computers, the majority believed they required more training to reach their desired level of computer literacy. Lack of familiarity with computer-related terms was prevalent. Self-reported basic computer skill was typically at a moderate level, and varied depending on the task. Specifically, respondents rated their ability to manipulate files, use software help features, and install software as low, but rated their ability to access and navigate the Internet as high. Respondents were generally aware of what online resources were available to them and Clinical Pharmacology was the most commonly employed reference. In terms of anticipated needs, most pharmacists believed they needed to upgrade their computer skills. Medical database and Internet searching skills were identified as those in greatest need of improvement.
Conclusions
Most pharmacists believed they needed to upgrade their computer skills. Medical database and Internet searching skills were identified as those in greatest need of improvement for the purposes of improving practice effectiveness.
doi:10.2196/jmir.6.1.e11
PMCID: PMC1550586  PMID: 15111277
Computer literacy; pharmacy; clinical informatics; needs assessment; pharmacists; survey
11.  The feasibility of nurse practitioner-performed, telementored lung telesonography with remote physician guidance - ‘a remote virtual mentor’ 
Background
Point-of-care ultrasound (POC-US) use is increasingly common as equipment costs decrease and availability increases. Despite the utility of POC-US in trained hands, there are many situations wherein patients could benefit from the added safety of POC-US guidance, yet trained users are unavailable. We therefore hypothesized that currently available and economic ‘off-the-shelf’ technologies could facilitate remote mentoring of a nurse practitioner (NP) to assess for recurrent pneumothoraces (PTXs) after chest tube removal.
Methods
The simple remote telementored ultrasound system consisted of a handheld ultrasound machine, head-mounted video camera, microphone, and software on a laptop computer. The video output of the handheld ultrasound machine and a macroscopic view of the NP's hands were displayed to a remote trauma surgeon mentor. The mentor instructed the NP on probe position and US machine settings and provided real-time guidance and image interpretation via encrypted video conferencing software using an Internet service provider. Thirteen pleural exams after chest tube removal were conducted.
Results
Thirteen patients (26 lung fields) were examined. The remote exam was possible in all cases with good connectivity including one trans-Atlantic interpretation. Compared to the subsequent upright chest radiograph, there were 4 true-positive remotely diagnosed PTXs, 2 false-negative diagnoses, and 20 true-negative diagnoses for 66% sensitivity, 100% specificity, and 92% accuracy for remotely guided chest examination.
Conclusions
Remotely guiding a NP to perform thoracic ultrasound examinations after tube thoracostomy removal can be simply and effectively performed over encrypted commercial software using low-cost hardware. As informatics constantly improves, mentored remote examinations may further empower clinical care providers in austere settings.
doi:10.1186/2036-7902-5-5
PMCID: PMC3735420  PMID: 23805869
Pneumothorax; Remote medicine; Tele-ultrasound; Education; Global health
12.  Barriers to Acceptance of Personal Digital Assistants for HIV/AIDS Data Collection in Angola 
Purpose
Handheld computers have potential to improve HIV/AIDS programs in healthcare settings in low-resource countries, by improving the speed and accuracy of collecting data. However, the acceptability of the technology (i.e., user attitude and reaction) is critical for its successful implementation. Acceptability is particularly critical for HIV/AIDS behavioral data, as it depends on respondents giving accurate information about a highly sensitive topic – sexual behavior.
Methods
To explore the acceptability of handheld computers for HIV/AIDS data collection and to identify potential barriers to acceptance, five focus groups of 8–10 participants each were conducted in Luanda, Angola. Facilitators presented Palm Tungsten E handhelds to the focus groups, probed participants’ perceptions of the handheld computer, and asked how they felt about disclosing intimate sexual behavior to an interviewer using a handheld computer. Discussions were conducted in Portuguese, the official language of Angola, and audio-taped. They were then transcribed and translated into English for analysis.
Results
In total, 49 people participated in the focus groups. PDAs were understood through the lens of social and cultural beliefs. Themes that emerged were suspicion of outsiders, concern with longevity, views on progress and development, and concern about social status.
Conclusions
The findings from this study suggest that personal and cultural beliefs influence participant acceptance of PDAs in Angola. While PDAs provide great advantages in terms of speed and efficiency of data collection, these barriers, if left unaddressed, may lead to biased reporting of HIV/AIDS risk data. An understanding of the barriers and why they are relevant in Angola may help researchers and practitioners to reduce the impact of these barriers on HIV/AIDS data collection.
doi:10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2011.04.004
PMCID: PMC3152252  PMID: 21622022
Computers; Handheld; Data Collection; HIV; Sexual Behavior; Africa South of the Sahara
13.  The Impact of Mobile Handheld Technology on Hospital Physicians' Work Practices and Patient Care: A Systematic Review 
The substantial growth in mobile handheld technologies has heralded the opportunity to provide physicians with access to information, resources, and people at the right time and place. But is this technology delivering the benefits to workflow and patient care promised by increased mobility? The authors conducted a systematic review to examine evidence regarding the impact of mobile handheld technology on hospital physicians' work practices and patient care, focusing on quantification of the espoused virtues of mobile technologies. The authors identified thirteen studies that demonstrated the ability of personal digital assistants (PDAs) to positively impact on areas of rapid response, error prevention, and data management and accessibility. The use of PDAs demonstrates the greatest benefits in contexts where time is a critical factor and a rapid response crucial. However, the extent to which these devices improved outcomes and workflow efficiencies because of their mobility was largely absent from the literature. The paucity of evidence calls for much needed future research that asks explicit questions about the impact the mobility of devices has on work practices and outcomes.
doi:10.1197/jamia.M3215
PMCID: PMC3002124  PMID: 19717793
14.  Implementation of a Mobile-Based Surveillance System in Saudi Arabia for the 2009 Hajj 
Objective
To develop and implement a mobile-based disease surveillance system in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) for the 2009 Hajj; to strengthen public health preparedness for the H1N1 Influenza A pandemic.
Introduction
The Hajj is considered to be the largest mass gathering to date, attracting an estimated 2.5 million Muslims from more than 160 countries annually (1). The H1N1 Influenza A pandemic of 2009 generated a global wave of concern among public health departments that resulted in the institution of preventive measures to limit transmission of the disease. Meanwhile, the pandemic amplified an urgent need for more innovative disease surveillance tools to combat disease outbreaks.
A collaborative effort between the KSA Ministry of Health (MOH) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was initiated to implement and deploy an informatics-based mobile solution to provide early detection and reporting of disease outbreaks during the 2009 Hajj. The mobile-based tool aimed to improve the efficiency of disease case reporting, recognize potential outbreaks, and enhance the MOH’s operational effectiveness in deploying resources (2).
Methods
We designed a case-based system consisting of a mobile-based data collection toolkit and interactive map-based user interface to perform geospatial analysis and visualization. A train-the-trainer approach was adapted to provide training to the KSA MOH.
Results
More than 200 public health and information and communication technology (ICT) professionals were trained, and 100 mobile devices were deployed during the 2009 Hajj. Nine diseases and conditions that were considered as highest priority during the Hajj were under surveillance, including H1N1 Influenza A and Influenza-like Illness.
Pilot testing of the system was conducted during the first week of Ramadan and a modified system was fully operational during the Hajj. Data collected on smartphones were sent to the system via a secured network. The data were processed immediately and visualized on highly interactive maps with local and global views.
Conclusions
Effective public health decision-making requires timely and accurate information from a variety of sources. Mobile-based systems (e.g., personal digital assistants and smartphones) for data collection, transmission, reporting, and analyses provide a faster, easier, and cheaper means to communicate standardized and shareable public health data for decision-making (3). Mobile-based systems have been recognized as a quick and effective response solution to mass gatherings and recommended as data gathering and communication systems with geographical information system (GIS) capability (2). This paper explored the development and implementation of the Global Positioning System/ Geographic Information System (GPS/GIS) enabled mobile-based disease surveillance system as a feasible and effective way to support and strengthen preparedness for H1N1 Influenza A during the 2009 Hajj.
Mobile computing technology can be utilized to provide rapid and accurate data collection for public health decision-making during mass gatherings. The GIS-based interactive mapping tool provided a pioneering example of the power of a geographically based internet-accessible surveillance system with real-time data visualization. The technical challenges in the process of implementation and in the field were also identified.
A need now exists for a comprehensive and comparative review of parameters such as handheld device cost, training required, and system evaluations because selecting the appropriate software/hardware and system remains a challenge not only to public health professionals, but to the development and application of informatics technology as well.
PMCID: PMC3692784
Mobile Technology; GIS/GPS; Mass Gatherings; Surveillance System; Public Health Preparedness
15.  Design and evaluation of a wireless electronic health records system for field care in mass casualty settings 
Background
There is growing interest in the use of technology to enhance the tracking and quality of clinical information available for patients in disaster settings. This paper describes the design and evaluation of the Wireless Internet Information System for Medical Response in Disasters (WIISARD).
Materials and methods
WIISARD combined advanced networking technology with electronic triage tags that reported victims' position and recorded medical information, with wireless pulse-oximeters that monitored patient vital signs, and a wireless electronic medical record (EMR) for disaster care. The EMR system included WiFi handheld devices with barcode scanners (used by front-line responders) and computer tablets with role-tailored software (used by managers of the triage, treatment, transport and medical communications teams). An additional software system provided situational awareness for the incident commander. The WIISARD system was evaluated in a large-scale simulation exercise designed for training first responders. A randomized trial was overlaid on this exercise with 100 simulated victims, 50 in a control pathway (paper-based), and 50 in completely electronic WIISARD pathway. All patients in the electronic pathway were cared for within the WIISARD system without paper-based workarounds.
Results
WIISARD reduced the rate of the missing and/or duplicated patient identifiers (0% vs 47%, p<0.001). The total time of the field was nearly identical (38:20 vs 38:23, IQR 26:53–1:05:32 vs 18:55–57:22).
Conclusion
Overall, the results of WIISARD show that wireless EMR systems for care of the victims of disasters would be complex to develop but potentially feasible to build and deploy, and likely to improve the quality of information available for the delivery of care during disasters.
doi:10.1136/amiajnl-2011-000229
PMCID: PMC3198000  PMID: 21709162
Electronic Health records; disasters; wireless; mobile computing
16.  A Systematic Review of Healthcare Applications for Smartphones 
Background
Advanced mobile communications and portable computation are now combined in handheld devices called “smartphones”, which are also capable of running third-party software. The number of smartphone users is growing rapidly, including among healthcare professionals. The purpose of this study was to classify smartphone-based healthcare technologies as discussed in academic literature according to their functionalities, and summarize articles in each category.
Methods
In April 2011, MEDLINE was searched to identify articles that discussed the design, development, evaluation, or use of smartphone-based software for healthcare professionals, medical or nursing students, or patients. A total of 55 articles discussing 83 applications were selected for this study from 2,894 articles initially obtained from the MEDLINE searches.
Results
A total of 83 applications were documented: 57 applications for healthcare professionals focusing on disease diagnosis (21), drug reference (6), medical calculators (8), literature search (6), clinical communication (3), Hospital Information System (HIS) client applications (4), medical training (2) and general healthcare applications (7); 11 applications for medical or nursing students focusing on medical education; and 15 applications for patients focusing on disease management with chronic illness (6), ENT-related (4), fall-related (3), and two other conditions (2). The disease diagnosis, drug reference, and medical calculator applications were reported as most useful by healthcare professionals and medical or nursing students.
Conclusions
Many medical applications for smartphones have been developed and widely used by health professionals and patients. The use of smartphones is getting more attention in healthcare day by day. Medical applications make smartphones useful tools in the practice of evidence-based medicine at the point of care, in addition to their use in mobile clinical communication. Also, smartphones can play a very important role in patient education, disease self-management, and remote monitoring of patients.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-12-67
PMCID: PMC3534499  PMID: 22781312
17.  Introducing handheld computing into a residency program: preliminary results from qualitative and quantitative inquiry. 
Although published reports describe specific handheld computer applications in medical training, we know very little yet about how, and how well, handheld computing fits into the spectrum of information resources available for patient care and physician training. This paper reports preliminary quantitative and qualitative results from an evaluation study designed to track changes in computer usage patterns and computer-related attitudes before and after introduction of handheld computing. Pre-implementation differences between residents and faculty s usage patterns are interpreted in terms of a "work role" construct. We hypothesize that over time residents and faculty will adopt, adapt, or abandon handheld computing according to how, and how well, this technology supports their successful completion of work role-related tasks. This hypothesis will be tested in the second phase of this pre- and post-implementation study.
PMCID: PMC2243603  PMID: 11825224
18.  The effectiveness of M-health technologies for improving health and health services: a systematic review protocol 
BMC Research Notes  2010;3:250.
Background
The application of mobile computing and communication technology is rapidly expanding in the fields of health care and public health. This systematic review will summarise the evidence for the effectiveness of mobile technology interventions for improving health and health service outcomes (M-health) around the world.
Findings
To be included in the review interventions must aim to improve or promote health or health service use and quality, employing any mobile computing and communication technology. This includes: (1) interventions designed to improve diagnosis, investigation, treatment, monitoring and management of disease; (2) interventions to deliver treatment or disease management programmes to patients, health promotion interventions, and interventions designed to improve treatment compliance; and (3) interventions to improve health care processes e.g. appointment attendance, result notification, vaccination reminders.
A comprehensive, electronic search strategy will be used to identify controlled studies, published since 1990, and indexed in MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Global Health, Web of Science, the Cochrane Library, or the UK NHS Health Technology Assessment database. The search strategy will include terms (and synonyms) for the following mobile electronic devices (MEDs) and a range of compatible media: mobile phone; personal digital assistant (PDA); handheld computer (e.g. tablet PC); PDA phone (e.g. BlackBerry, Palm Pilot); Smartphone; enterprise digital assistant; portable media player (i.e. MP3 or MP4 player); handheld video game console. No terms for health or health service outcomes will be included, to ensure that all applications of mobile technology in public health and health services are identified. Bibliographies of primary studies and review articles meeting the inclusion criteria will be searched manually to identify further eligible studies. Data on objective and self-reported outcomes and study quality will be independently extracted by two review authors. Where there are sufficient numbers of similar interventions, we will calculate and report pooled risk ratios or standardised mean differences using meta-analysis.
Discussion
This systematic review will provide recommendations on the use of mobile computing and communication technology in health care and public health and will guide future work on intervention development and primary research in this field.
doi:10.1186/1756-0500-3-250
PMCID: PMC2976743  PMID: 20925916
19.  Electronic Data Collection and Management System for Global Adult Tobacco Survey 
Online Journal of Public Health Informatics  2012;4(2):ojphi.v4i2.4190.
Introduction:
Portable handheld computers and electronic data management systems have been used for national surveys in many high-income countries, however their use in developing countries has been challenging due to varying geographical, economic, climatic, political and cultural environments. In order to monitor and measure global adult tobacco use, the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention initiated the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, a nationally representative household survey of adults, 15 years of age or older, using a standard core questionnaire, sample design, and data collection and management procedures. The Survey has been conducted in 14 low- and middle-income countries, using an electronic data collection and management system. This paper describes implementation of the electronic data collection system and associated findings.
Methods:
The Survey was based on a comprehensive data management protocol, to enable standardized, globally comparable high quality data collection and management. It included adaptation to specific country needs, selection of appropriate handheld hardware devices, use of open source software, and building country capacity and provide technical support.
Results:
In its first phase, the Global Adult Tobacco Survey was successfully conducted between 2008 and 2010, using an electronic data collection and management system for interviews in 302,800 households in 14 countries. More than 2,644 handheld computers were fielded and over 2,634 fieldworkers, supervisors and monitors were trained to use them. Questionnaires were developed and programmed in 38 languages and scripts. The global hardware failure rate was < 1% and data loss was almost 0%.
Conclusion:
Electronic data collection and management systems can be used effectively for conducting nationally representative surveys, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, irrespective of geographical, climatic, political and cultural environments, and capacity-building at the country level is an important vehicle for Health System Strengthening.
doi:10.5210/ojphi.v4i2.4190
PMCID: PMC3615815  PMID: 23569638
Electronic data collection and management; Tobacco Control Surveillance; Low and middle income countries; Handheld; General Survey System; Global Adult Tobacco Survey
20.  Image Quality Characteristics of Handheld Display Devices for Medical Imaging 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79243.
Handheld devices such as mobile phones and tablet computers have become widespread with thousands of available software applications. Recently, handhelds are being proposed as part of medical imaging solutions, especially in emergency medicine, where immediate consultation is required. However, handheld devices differ significantly from medical workstation displays in terms of display characteristics. Moreover, the characteristics vary significantly among device types. We investigate the image quality characteristics of various handheld devices with respect to luminance response, spatial resolution, spatial noise, and reflectance. We show that the luminance characteristics of the handheld displays are different from those of workstation displays complying with grayscale standard target response suggesting that luminance calibration might be needed. Our results also demonstrate that the spatial characteristics of handhelds can surpass those of medical workstation displays particularly for recent generation devices. While a 5 mega-pixel monochrome workstation display has horizontal and vertical modulation transfer factors of 0.52 and 0.47 at the Nyquist frequency, the handheld displays released after 2011 can have values higher than 0.63 at the respective Nyquist frequencies. The noise power spectra for workstation displays are higher than 1.2×10−5 mm2 at 1 mm−1, while handheld displays have values lower than 3.7×10−6 mm2. Reflectance measurements on some of the handheld displays are consistent with measurements for workstation displays with, in some cases, low specular and diffuse reflectance coefficients. The variability of the characterization results among devices due to the different technological features indicates that image quality varies greatly among handheld display devices.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079243
PMCID: PMC3827384  PMID: 24236113
21.  Challenges in the Implementation of a Mobile Application in Clinical Practice: Case Study in the Context of an Application that Manages the Daily Interventions of Nurses 
JMIR mHealth and uHealth  2013;1(1):e7.
Background
Working in a clinical environment requires unfettered mobility. This is especially true for nurses who are always on the move providing patients’ care in different locations. Since the introduction of clinical information systems in hospitals, this mobility has often been considered hampered by interactions with computers. The popularity of personal mobile assistants such as smartphones makes it possible to gain easy access to clinical data anywhere.
Objective
To identify the challenges involved in the deployment of clinical applications on handheld devices and to share our solutions to these problems.
Methods
A team of experts underwent an iterative development process of a mobile application prototype that aimed to improve the mobility of nurses during their daily clinical activities. Through the process, challenges inherent to mobile platforms have emerged. These issues have been classified, focusing on factors related to ensuring information safety and quality, as well as pleasant and efficient user experiences.
Results
The team identified five main challenges related to the deployment of clinical mobile applications and presents solutions to overcome each of them: (1) Financial: Equipping every care giver with a new mobile device requires substantial investment that can be lowered if users use their personal device instead, (2) Hardware: The constraints inherent to the clinical environment made us choose the mobile device with the best tradeoff between size and portability, (3) Communication: the connection of the mobile application with any existing clinical information systems (CIS) is insured by a bridge formatting the information appropriately, (4) Security: In order to guarantee the confidentiality and safety of the data, the amount of data stored on the device is minimized, and (5) User interface: The design of our user interface relied on homogeneity, hierarchy, and indexicality principles to prevent an increase in data acquisition errors.
Conclusions
The introduction of nomadic computing often raises enthusiastic reactions from users, but several challenges due to specific constraints of mobile platforms must be overcome. The ease of development of mobile applications and their rapid spread should not overshadow the real challenges of clinical applications and the potential threats for patient safety and the liability of people and organizations using them. For example, careful attention must be given to the overall architecture of the system and to user interfaces. If these precautions are not taken, it can easily lead to unexpected failures such as an increased number of input errors, loss of data, or decreased efficiency.
doi:10.2196/mhealth.2344
PMCID: PMC4114482  PMID: 25100680
hospital information systems; computers, handheld; equipment design; nurses; mobile health; pilot projects; user-computer interface
22.  Handheld Computing in Medicine 
Handheld computers have become a valuable and popular tool in various fields of medicine. A systematic review of articles was undertaken to summarize the current literature regarding the use of handheld devices in medicine. A variety of articles were identified, and relevant information for various medical fields was summarized. The literature search covered general information about handheld devices, the use of these devices to access medical literature, electronic pharmacopoeias, patient tracking, medical education, research, business management, e-prescribing, patient confidentiality, and costs as well as specialty-specific uses for personal digital assistants (PDAs).
The authors concluded that only a small number of articles provide evidence-based information about the use of PDAs in medicine. The majority of articles provide descriptive information, which is nevertheless of value. This article aims to increase the awareness among physicians about the potential roles for handheld computers in medicine and to encourage the further evaluation of their use.
doi:10.1197/jamia.M1180
PMCID: PMC150367  PMID: 12595403
23.  Evidence for handheld electronic medical records in improving care: a systematic review 
Background
Handheld electronic medical records are expected to improve physician performance and patient care. To confirm this, we performed a systematic review of the evidence assessing the effects of handheld electronic medical records on clinical care.
Methods
To conduct the systematic review, we searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, and the Cochrane library from 1966 through September 2005. We included randomized controlled trials that evaluated effects on practitioner performance or patient outcomes of handheld electronic medical records compared to either paper medical records or desktop electronic medical records. Two reviewers independently reviewed citations, assessed full text articles and abstracted data from the studies.
Results
Two studies met our inclusion criteria. No other randomized controlled studies or non-randomized controlled trials were found that met our inclusion criteria. Both studies were methodologically strong. The studies examined changes in documentation in orthopedic patients with handheld electronic medical records compared to paper charts, and both found an increase in documentation. Other effects noted with handheld electronic medical records were an increase in time to document and an increase in wrong or redundant diagnoses.
Conclusion
Handheld electronic medical records may improve documentation, but as yet, the number of studies is small and the data is restricted to one group of patients and a small group of practitioners. Further study is required to determine the benefits with handheld electronic medical records especially in assessing clinical outcomes.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-6-26
PMCID: PMC1538581  PMID: 16787539
24.  Circulating Mitochondrial DNA in Patients in the ICU as a Marker of Mortality: Derivation and Validation 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(12):e1001577.
In this paper, Choi and colleagues analyzed levels of mitochondrial DNA in two prospective observational cohort studies and found that increased mtDNA levels are associated with ICU mortality, and improve risk prediction in medical ICU patients. The data suggests that mtDNA could serve as a viable plasma biomarker in MICU patients.
Background
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is a critical activator of inflammation and the innate immune system. However, mtDNA level has not been tested for its role as a biomarker in the intensive care unit (ICU). We hypothesized that circulating cell-free mtDNA levels would be associated with mortality and improve risk prediction in ICU patients.
Methods and Findings
Analyses of mtDNA levels were performed on blood samples obtained from two prospective observational cohort studies of ICU patients (the Brigham and Women's Hospital Registry of Critical Illness [BWH RoCI, n = 200] and Molecular Epidemiology of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome [ME ARDS, n = 243]). mtDNA levels in plasma were assessed by measuring the copy number of the NADH dehydrogenase 1 gene using quantitative real-time PCR. Medical ICU patients with an elevated mtDNA level (≥3,200 copies/µl plasma) had increased odds of dying within 28 d of ICU admission in both the BWH RoCI (odds ratio [OR] 7.5, 95% CI 3.6–15.8, p = 1×10−7) and ME ARDS (OR 8.4, 95% CI 2.9–24.2, p = 9×10−5) cohorts, while no evidence for association was noted in non-medical ICU patients. The addition of an elevated mtDNA level improved the net reclassification index (NRI) of 28-d mortality among medical ICU patients when added to clinical models in both the BWH RoCI (NRI 79%, standard error 14%, p<1×10−4) and ME ARDS (NRI 55%, standard error 20%, p = 0.007) cohorts. In the BWH RoCI cohort, those with an elevated mtDNA level had an increased risk of death, even in analyses limited to patients with sepsis or acute respiratory distress syndrome. Study limitations include the lack of data elucidating the concise pathological roles of mtDNA in the patients, and the limited numbers of measurements for some of biomarkers.
Conclusions
Increased mtDNA levels are associated with ICU mortality, and inclusion of mtDNA level improves risk prediction in medical ICU patients. Our data suggest that mtDNA could serve as a viable plasma biomarker in medical ICU patients.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Intensive care units (ICUs, also known as critical care units) are specialist hospital wards that provide care for people with life-threatening injuries and illnesses. In the US alone, more than 5 million people are admitted to ICUs every year. Different types of ICUs treat different types of problems. Medical ICUs treat patients who, for example, have been poisoned or who have a serious infection such as sepsis (blood poisoning) or severe pneumonia (inflammation of the lungs); trauma ICUs treat patients who have sustained a major injury; cardiac ICUs treat patients who have heart problems; and surgical ICUs treat complications arising from operations. Patients admitted to ICUs require constant medical attention and support from a team of specially trained nurses and physicians to prevent organ injury and to keep their bodies functioning. Monitors, intravenous tubes (to supply essential fluids, nutrients, and drugs), breathing machines, catheters (to drain urine), and other equipment also help to keep ICU patients alive.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although many patients admitted to ICUs recover, others do not. ICU specialists use scoring systems (algorithms) based on clinical signs and physiological measurements to predict their patients' likely outcomes. For example, the APACHE II scoring system uses information on heart and breathing rates, temperature, levels of salts in the blood, and other signs and physiological measurements collected during the first 24 hours in the ICU to predict the patient's risk of death. Existing scoring systems are not perfect, however, and “biomarkers” (molecules in bodily fluids that provide information about a disease state) are needed to improve risk prediction for ICU patients. Here, the researchers investigate whether levels of circulating cell-free mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) are associated with ICU deaths and whether these levels can be used as a biomarker to improve risk prediction in ICU patients. Mitochondria are cellular structures that produce energy. Levels of mtDNA in the plasma (the liquid part of blood) increase in response to trauma and infection. Moreover, mtDNA activates molecular processes that lead to inflammation and organ injury.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers measured mtDNA levels in the plasma of patients enrolled in two prospective observational cohort studies that monitored the outcomes of ICU patients. In the Brigham and Women's Hospital Registry of Critical Illness study, blood was taken from 200 patients within 24 hours of admission into the hospital's medical ICU. In the Molecular Epidemiology of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome study (acute respiratory distress syndrome is a life-threatening inflammatory reaction to lung damage or infection), blood was taken from 243 patients within 48 hours of admission into medical and non-medical ICUs at two other US hospitals. Patients admitted to medical ICUs with a raised mtDNA level (3,200 or more copies of a specific mitochondrial gene per microliter of plasma) had a 7- to 8-fold increased risk of dying within 28 days of admission compared to patients with mtDNA levels of less than 3,200 copies/µl plasma. There was no evidence of an association between raised mtDNA levels and death among patients admitted to non-medical ICUs. The addition of an elevated mtDNA level to a clinical model for risk prediction that included the APACHE II score and biomarkers that are already used to predict ICU outcomes improved the net reclassification index (an indicator of the improvement in risk prediction algorithms offered by new biomarkers) of 28-day mortality among medical ICU patients in both studies.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that raised mtDNA plasma levels are associated with death in medical ICUs and show that, among patients in medical ICUs, measurement of mtDNA plasma levels can improve the prediction of the risk of death from the APACHE II scoring system, even when commonly measured biomarkers are taken into account. These findings do not indicate whether circulating cell-free mtDNA increased because of the underlying severity of illness or whether mtDNA actively contributes to the disease process in medical ICU patients. Moreover, they do not provide any evidence that raised mtDNA levels are associated with an increased risk of death among non-medical (mainly surgical) ICU patients. These findings need to be confirmed in additional patients, but given the relative ease and rapidity of mtDNA measurement, the determination of circulating cell-free mtDNA levels could be a valuable addition to the assessment of patients admitted to medical ICUs.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001577.
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about intensive care
The Society of Critical Care Medicine provides information for professionals, families, and patients about all aspects of intensive care
MedlinePlus provides links to other resources about intensive care (in English and Spanish)
The UK charity ICUsteps supports patients and their families through recovery from critical illness; its booklet Intensive Care: A Guide for Patients and Families is available in English and ten other languages; its website includes patient experiences and relative experiences of treatment in ICUs
Wikipedia has a page on ICU scoring systems (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001577
PMCID: PMC3876981  PMID: 24391478
25.  Handheld Technology to Improve Patient Care 
Objective: Despite an increasing movement toward shared decision making and the incorporation of patients' preferences into health care decision making, little research has been done on the development and evaluation of support systems that help clinicians elicit and integrate patients' preferences into patient care. This study evaluates nurses' use of choice, a handheld-computer–based support system for preference-based care planning, which assists nurses in eliciting patients' preferences for functional performance at the bedside. Specifically, it evaluates the effects of system use on nurses' care priorities, preference achievement, and patients' satisfaction.
Design: Three-group sequential design with one intervention and two control groups (N=155). In the intervention group, nurses elicited patients' preferences for functional performance with the handheld-computer–based choice application as part of their regular admission interview; preference information was added to patients' charts and used in subsequent care planning.
Results: Nurses' use of choice made nursing care more consistent with patient preferences (F=11.4; P<0.001) and improved patients' preference achievement (F=4.9; P<0.05). Furthermore, higher consistency between patients' preferences and nurses' care priorities was associated with higher preference achievement (r=0.49; P<0.001).
Conclusion: In this study, the use of a handheld-computer–based support system for preference-based care planning improved patient-centered care and patient outcomes. The technique has potential to be included in clinical practice as part of nurses' routine care planning.
doi:10.1197/jamia.M0891
PMCID: PMC344576  PMID: 11861634

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