Background Hand-held computers, also commonly known as personal digital assistants (PDAs) were originally designed as personal organisers. Nowadays, many healthcare professionals use PDAs in their clinical work, accessing medicines databases, guidelines and clinical decision-based support tools. The prevalence of these devices in our hospital and the level of acceptance among staff and students are unknown. Finding out this will help in understanding how PDAs play a role in our healthcare system.
Purpose To examine the level of PDA use among staff and students in a healthcare setting: what device functionalities are mostly used, self-reported usefulness, safety and satisfaction level with these devices.
Materials and methods Exploratory descriptive study using a self-administered survey offered to healthcare workers and students during their clinical rounds. This survey had first been validated (content validation and internal consistency test). Demographic questions were used in addition to a 5-point scale for responses to usefulness, safety and satisfaction level. The rate was from 1 (disagree) to 5 (agree).
Results A total of 86 responders were included in this study. 48 (55.8%) were male and mean age was 29.6 ± 6.9. 30 out of 36 physicians (83%) used a PDA, 26 out of 27 pharmacists (96.3%). Student use was 88.9% among medical students (8 out of 9), and 85.7% among pharmacy students (12 out of 14). Accessing medicines databases was the most frequently used functionality among all users (83.7%), followed by internet searching (76.7%) then medical calculations (59%). Self-reported usefulness mean score was 4.5, 4.4 for safety in decision making and 4.5 in overall satisfaction.
Conclusions PDAs were predominantly used by healthcare workers and students on clinical rounds. Their reported level of usefulness and satisfaction were high. Users also considered they increased the safety of decision making.
No conflict of interest.
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