The personal digital assistant (PDA) is a handheld device originally designed as personal organizers but over the years have advanced becoming the newest tool in the academic toolbox. It had broad capabilities is a powerful reference source as well as a computer and communicator that can be stored in a pocket.
The PDA was first developed in 1993 by Apple Computer and was named the Newton. Later Palm, Inc. released the Pilot 1000 and 5000 which retailed for about $500 (Wikipedia). Today the PDA has become a necessity to many people. It has a broad range of functions which may include a cell phone, address book, GPS receiver or camera and retails for about $250 (Wikipedia).
The use of the PDA has found a place in the general life of the public but also has become an essential part of many professions. The medical and nursing professions have embraced this technology as well. Due to the ease of programming of the PDA, many programs for use in the medical community have been developed for that operating system. According to Hunt, in 2002 an estimated 18 percent of physicians and only 1 percent, approximately 25,000, of all nurses were using the PDA in their practices.
Currently the PDA is used in a fairly limited manner. Many people use the PDA as a personal organizer, memo pad and phone book whereas many healthcare professionals use it as a resource for patient care. However, some healthcare professionals use it to organize patient data, track patient visits, in addition to writing and transmitting prescriptions. The PDA is also widely used by healthcare professionals for information about drugs; the information that the professional can obtain about drugs are their side effects, interactions as well as dosages. Medical calculators are also frequently used to estimate measures such as arterial blood gases, body mass indexes, laboratory values and drip/infusion rates (Fischer, eta.)
The healthcare community has not been left behind in the development of resources for the PDA. However, it may be reasonable to assume that full usage of its capabilities is lagging behind the development. The technology is developing faster than the practitioners can incorporate it into their practice. There are currently some very common uses in the medical community of the PDA. There are many resource books that are sold in a formal that allows the downloading of the entire text onto the PDA.