Personal Digital Assistants (PalmPilots, PocketPCs, even Blackberries) are increasingly becoming prominent in hospitals in general, and hospital library (if it exists) tends to become one of the major support areas for the PDAs. The vast majority of the hospital and/or educational institution health/medical PDA support sites are run through the institution’s library; such as

There are a range of issues around the support and management of PDAs in hospital libraries, not the least of which being the requirement for librarians to suddenly become technical support gurus and knowledgeable about not only the different types of PDA, but able to differentiate between the various different pieces of health/medical software available for PDA (and the list is very extensive indeed). MIMS and/or DynaMed? – for eg.

I’ve only myself received a PDA for playing around with (Palm T5, in case anyone was wondering) and have contrived to crash it at least twice, which is some small record for me! PDAs don’t necessarily have a lot of inherent memory, so the first thing to learn (apart from things like “turning it on” and “installing software” and “how to find programs”) is that one can’t install everything at once, just to “try”. This means I’m learning how to uninstall stuff … and that’s how I’m causing the crashes. There’s more hand-holding to this than I originally realised …

I’m also of the firm opinion that within 10 years, really significant health/medical resources will be concentrated into portable medical devices and they’ll be essential, not “useful to some, regarded as a waste of space by many, essential to a very few”. Think Star Trek and their magical scanners that diagnose AND dispense … we’re not far from that, I reckon.

And in a related segue … the Canberra Hospital Library is hosting a PDA Info Fair on March 7, for hospital staff and students. All Canberra and area librarians, whether medical or not, are invited to visit – it runs between 11:30am and 2:30pm in the main hospital foyer. There will be various hardware/software suppliers on hand to provide information, and the Library will be promoting its increasing range of support services for PDAs within the hospital itself. Contact the Library for more information.

Hmmm … “Point Of Care IT”, or PocIT. I _like_ it …