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1.  Angina on the Palm 
Canadian Family Physician  2005;51(3):383.
Personal digital assistants (PDAs) are popular with physicians: in 2003, 33% of Canadian doctors reported using them in their practices. We do not know, however, whether using a PDA changes the behaviour of practising physicians. We studied the effectiveness of a PDA software application to help family physicians diagnose angina among patients with chest pain.
Prospective randomized controlled pilot trial using a cluster design.
Primary care practices in the Toronto area.
Eighteen family physicians belonging to the North Toronto Primary Care Research Network (Nortren) or recruited from a local hospital.
We randomized physicians to receive a Palm PDA (which included the angina diagnosis software) or to continue conventional care. Physicians prospectively recorded the process of care for patients aged 30 to 75 presenting with suspected angina, over 7 months.
Did the process of care for patients with suspected angina improve when their physicians had PDAs and software? The primary outcomes we looked at were frequency of cardiac stress test orders for suspected angina, and the appropriateness of referral for cardiac stress testing at presentation and for nuclear cardiology testing after cardiac stress testing. Secondary outcome was referrals to cardiologists.
The software led to more overall use of cardiac stress testing (81% vs 50%). The absolute increase was 31% (P =.007, 95% confidence interval [CI] 8% to 58%). There was a trend toward more appropriate use of stress testing (48.6% with the PDA vs 28.6% control), an increase of 20% (P =.284, 95% CI -11.54% to 51.4%). There was also a trend toward more appropriate use of nuclear cardiology following cardiac stress testing (63.0% vs 45.5%), an absolute increase of 17.5% (P =.400, 95% CI -13.9% to 48.9%). Referrals to cardiologists did not increase (38.2% with the PDA vs 40.9%, P =.869).
A PDA-based software application can lead to improved care for patients with suspected angina seen in family practices; this finding requires confirmation in a larger study.
PMCID: PMC1472967  PMID: 16926933
2.  Surgical procedure logging with use of a hand-held computer 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2002;45(5):345-350.
To evaluate the feasibility of incorporating hand-held computing technology in a surgical residency program, by means of hand-held devices for surgical procedure logging linked through the Internet to a central database.
Division of General Surgery, University of Toronto.
A survey of general surgery residents.
The 69 residents in the general surgery training program received hand-held computers with preinstalled medical programs and a program designed for surgical procedure logging. Procedural data were uploaded via the Internet to a central database. Survey data were collected regarding previous computer use as well as previous procedure logging methods.
Main outcome measure
Utilization of the procedure logging system.
After a 5-month pilot period, 38% of surgical residents were using the procedure-logging program successfully and on a regular basis. Program use was higher among more junior trainees. Analysis of the database provided valuable information on individual trainees, hospital programs and supervising surgeons, data that would assist in program development.
Hand-held devices can be implemented in a large division of general surgery to provide a reference database and a procedure-logging platform. However, user acceptance is not uniform and continued training and support are necessary to increase acceptance. The procedure database provides important information for optimizing trainees’ educational experience.
PMCID: PMC3684636  PMID: 12387537
3.  Handheld computers in critical care 
Critical Care  2001;5(4):227-231.
Computing technology has the potential to improve health care management but is often underutilized. Handheld computers are versatile and relatively inexpensive, bringing the benefits of computers to the bedside. We evaluated the role of this technology for managing patient data and accessing medical reference information, in an academic intensive-care unit (ICU).
Palm III series handheld devices were given to the ICU team, each installed with medical reference information, schedules, and contact numbers. Users underwent a 1-hour training session introducing the hardware and software. Various patient data management applications were assessed during the study period. Qualitative assessment of the benefits, drawbacks, and suggestions was performed by an independent company, using focus groups. An objective comparison between a paper and electronic handheld textbook was achieved using clinical scenario tests.
During the 6-month study period, the 20 physicians and 6 paramedical staff who used the handheld devices found them convenient and functional but suggested more comprehensive training and improved search facilities. Comparison of the handheld computer with the conventional paper text revealed equivalence. Access to computerized patient information improved communication, particularly with regard to long-stay patients, but changes to the software and the process were suggested.
The introduction of this technology was well received despite differences in users' familiarity with the devices. Handheld computers have potential in the ICU, but systems need to be developed specifically for the critical-care environment.
PMCID: PMC37409  PMID: 11511337
computer communication networks; medical informatics; medical technology; microcomputers; point-of-care technology

Results 1-3 (3)