Wednesday, November 1, 2000

Handheld applications: the right prescription for busy doctors


By Michael Collins

As a director of enterprise sales for an international handheld e-commerce site, I answer calls all day, everyday, coming from a range of professionals. I talk to doctors, lawyers, engineers, consultants, and so on. They're all looking to outfit themselves and their professional teams with the latest in handheld devices and applications to enhance their businesses. Many of these callers are surprised to learn how many handheld software applications, which are designed specifically to enhance their professions, exist.

Healthcare is a good example of an occupational field that has spawned an entire category of industry-specific applications. There are applications out there to aid everyone in the medical field, from students and residents to doctors and nurses, and the popularity of these applications is exploding. In fact, the number-one term entered into our site's search engine is "medical."

For example, just yesterday I was talking with a resident doctor at a hospital in Dallas, TX. He wasn't sure what he was looking for; all he knew was that he needed a device to help him keep appointments and contacts. Of course, that's a great, albeit basic, use of a handheld device,. Of course, we're able to recommend a slew of applications to enhance those native device applications. After discussing the best device for his needs (we chose a Palm organizer, since it has the most applications available for download), we started to talk about the issues he encounters on the job. He noted the common problems of time management and file organization. Those are the general issues everyone has that we can solve pretty quickly with a grand selection of productivity tool applications.

From there I opened his eyes to all the software categories specifically geared toward his needs as a medical professional, including reference books, patient tracking, calculators, and exciting new wireless prescription tools. He was impressed. We were able to solve efficiency and accuracy issues he didn't know he had.

Reference books

I know if I was a doctor, I would fall in love with all the reference book applications out there. These applications are a great asset, especially for students and residents still learning the ins and outs of medicine. For example, the PDR (Physician's Desk Reference) is absolutely huge. Instead of carrying around seven pounds worth of pages, a doctor can download the PDR on his eight-ounce Palm device and carry it with ease in a coat pocket. Plus, the doctor can go online to download new versions as they come along. That's just the tip of the iceberg, though. There are many more reference applications, including drug lists, peer directories, and medical quiz applications that keep doctors fresh and on their toes.