PDAs are a physician's Rx for admin tasks

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Doctors are using personal digital assistants to maintain their address book (87 percent), keep top of their appointments (80 percent) and check medications (65 percent), according to Forrester Research in a study that surveyed 1,331 U.S. physicians.
   
U.S. physicians are five times as likely as general consumers to own these savvy, portable pieces of hardware, but less than a third of physicians who have mobile electronic medical records actually use them, the survey reported.
   
Twenty-six percent of physicians said they use PDAs to access the internet, 12 percent said to send/receive emails, 7 percent to order medications, 6 percent to access patient records and 5 percent to check lab results.
   
While medical residents were the group most likely to use their PDA on a regular basis (73 percent), doctors were less likely to use such devices if they were women (53 percent of women used them), older (45 percent of physicians older than 40 used them), surgeons (54 percent used them compared with 71 percent of general-practice physicians), or employed at small practices.
   
But some doctors are utilizing PDAs in the clinical setting - for example, if a medical practice supported electronic prescribing, nearly three-fifths of the physicians used their handhelds to do so. The same can not be said for clinical information systems, though. Of the 46 percent of clinicians reporting that they have this capability, nearly two out of three did so.
   
The report also found that healthcare organizations were more willing than other businesses to invest in wireless services and applications to go online. Twenty-six percent of physicians with gadgets used them to get online, and 12 percent used them to send or receive e-mail.