Pilot Project of Personal Digital Assistants Use by Ethiopian Emergency Medicine Residents – on Behalf of the TAAAC Collaboration

Maxim Ben-Yakov* Maxim Ben-Yakov*, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

Track: Practice
Presentation Topic: Digital Learning
Presentation Type: Poster presentation
Submission Type: Single Presentation

Last modified: 2012-09-13

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Introduction: Over the past 5 years the developed world has enjoyed an exponential evolution of mobile technology with the introduction of the iPhone; e-health applications quickly followed with most physicians and trainees now using smartphones or Personal Digital Assistants (PDA). In Ethiopia due to high costs, poor mobile internet or data availability, and lack of competitive industry pressures; smartphones haven’t reached popular use. PDA’s have been shown to improve decision-making, reduce medical error, enhance medical education, and are a favored on-the-job medical information resource (compared to books). Most studied is the efficient use for verifying harmful drug interaction and as a data collection tool. Our objective was to pilot Palm® TX™ PDA use among 2nd year Ethiopian residents and evaluate feasibility for future mobile technologies.

Methods: We piloted an educational project where we distributed 5 Palm TX PDA’s to second year residents in the beginning of a 1 month TAAAC elective. Five standardized offline applications most relevant to Emergency Medicine were uploaded to the PDA’s (General EM, Peds EM, Drug and laboratory databases, and an ACLS/PALS app). After one month of use we questioned residents regarding the potential utility, ease of use, contextual applicability, and barriers or challenges to the use of this mobile offline technology.

Results: All five residents replied to a pre-designed questionnaire. All resident were comfortable with using a computer device and were using Google or Wikipedia as an online medical resource. Prior to PDA introduction they were using mainly books for on and off duty consultation. The PDA was used regularly on and off duty and reported to help with most aspects of patient care. The PDA seemed to contribute the greatest to infrequent and specific diagnoses and treatment. No major technical difficulties were encountered.

Conclusion: The PDA’s were perceived as useful, and without major obstacles for application in the Ethiopian context. Residents welcome further development of such tools and possibly having online access with internet and Uptodate® resources.

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