When we think of PDA’s in the hospital, our frame of reference was medical students looking up dosage information or exotic diseases on their Palms or Pocket PC’s.
In the last few years, however, industrial handhelds have come a long way. They can now do everything those med students were doing, plus combine a lot of disparate features found on other devices. These handhelds represent the convergence of many well-established technologies, finally available in a small enough format, providing enough incentive to re-train all those healthcare workers.
Symbol Technologies is moving into this market, offering handhelds that can place calls to colleagues, receive lab results wirelessly as they’re updated, and scan barcodes for medication dispensing.
The units can sense their surroundings, locking up if they’re taking off the floor or if the wrong person tries to access patient information.
Even loaded with all that tech, they’re built more ruggedly than consumer PDAs, able to withstand drops from standing height, featuring and alcohol-proof bodies (for washing off patients’ sputum and other bodily fluids). Compared to the Palms and PocketPC’s at BestBuy, Symbol’s handhelds sport thicker stylets, some bound to the PDA with a flexible cord, with clips and a nice handstrap to keep one’s grip.
Tomorrow we’ll review a handheld we got to see in action — the Symbol MC70 — and indulge in fanciful speculation on all the time we’d save on charting, rounds, administering meds and answering pages.