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Handheld Health

September 1, 2006
by Anthony Guerra
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UHC is providing residents with Palm handhelds to stay competitive and enhance care.

In the competitive world of academic hospitals, organizations such as University Hospital Cincinnati (UHC) actively compete to attract the best and brightest to their residency programs. To that end, UHC, with one large teaching university hospital (UHC) plus teaching responsibilities at Christ Hospital and Jewish Hospital, has been issuing Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Palm LifeDrive mobile managers to the approximately 250 residents it takes on every year.

"When you have a large residency program, you have to be able to track and accredit patient care time," says Alex Rodriguez, CIO. "Our residency program surveys incoming students and one attraction is our new technology, so it's a big drive to remain competitive."

He explains that the devices have been equipped with ePocrates (San Mateo, Calif.) software for clinical reference information, and were recently outfitted with Durham, N.C.-based MercuryMD's MData, a mobile information system for patient data.

Rodriguez says UHC decided on MercuryMD based on the strength of the application's interfaces to the hospital's medical system.

The organization's handheld journey stared about five years ago. "We recognized that the residents wanted to use technology more aggressively, and so we started to have a mobile strategy for them in the last few years," Rodriguez says.

Of course, not all residents embrace the mobile applications. "MercuryMD allows you to track utilization, and we work back with the docs that we feel aren't using the product to find out why. But the majority of our doctors are providing overwhelmingly positive feedback," he says.

MercuryMD, he says, allows the organization to provide clinical information on the mobile devices including patient vital signs, laboratory information, cardiology data, and mobile charts. "So physicians, as they make their rounds, are basically no longer bound by paper chart," Rodriguez adds.