PDAs Improve Customer Care

Medical doctors and personal digital assistants (PDA) are going hand-in-hand. What is driving this trend? Better customer service, of course. The latest research to back this claim comes from AvantGo, a developer of mobile enterprise software, which released findings this week from a survey of around 3,500 doctors. Most doctors use PDAs to keep their calendars and access stale drug reference guides, but this is only the beginning. Nearly half of the respondents want to use PDAs to access medical reference Web sites, while 33 percent want to write and transmit prescriptions on the fly. And practically everyone says additional information via PDAs would enable doctors to improve patient care. So far, only 20 percent of the respondents'affiliated hospitals currently support mobile devices. PDAs do not just represent a doctor-to-patient, business-to-consumer technology. In a business-to-business scenario, a whopping 86 percent of doctors felt the value they derived from pharmaceutical companies would be dramatically increased if these companies offered an on-device channel that would provide PDAs with the latest information, such as product collateral on new drugs and clinical trial results. The study's results, however, are a bit skewed -- not to mention that the study was conducted by a vendor of mobile software and services. For instance, all of the survey's respondents required a PDA and had to use the AvantGo mobile Internet service to participate in the study. still, PDAs are finding a foothold in the medical industry. " These results are consistent with what we have experienced at Harvard Medical School, where we provide value-added services that help medical students use their PDAs more effectively, improving physician workflow and reducing costs," said Dr. John Halamka, assistant dean of Harvard Medical School and CIO of Caregroup, in a statement. Harvard Medical School rolled out PDAs in six months. According to Halmaka, the solution has saved the firm $150,000 in paper costs, as well as reduced data-plugging personnel. And then there is the customer-facing -- or in this case, student-facing -- efficiency gains. "The solution has provided us with higher quality data and increased our form completion compliance from the usual 20 percent, delivered up to six week after the completion of a course, to 80 percent delivered in near real-time," Halmaka said. Tom Kaneshige also writes for Line56.com
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