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The emerging role of PDAs in information use and clinical decision making
  1. Diane Doran
  1. Lawrence S Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing; University of Toronto; Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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One of the great challenges facing healthcare professionals today is the effective and efficient management of an ever-increasing amount of clinically related health information. An important dimension of this challenge is the accessibility of information at times of decision making. Mobile information terminals, such as personal digital assistants (PDAs), have the potential to address this challenge by bringing the most relevant information directly to the point of care. Providing information through convenient electronic sources may address some of the barriers that inhibit access and clinical use of new and relevant research by nurses.

The purpose of this Notebook is to explore the use of PDAs to increase nurses’ access to and use of evidence-based resources in practice. It will explore how information and communication technologies, such as PDAs, can support evidence-based practice and will examine the role of information and communication technologies within the context of established knowledge-translation approaches. Recognising that information technologies alone will not change evidence-based practice, the limitations of current technologies will be discussed, drawing on research evidence to argue the importance of considering technological innovation within the context of other knowledge-translation strategies.

New or enhanced competencies that will be needed to ensure quality health care were outlined in the publication Crossing the quality chasm.1 They included expertise in evidence-based practice, quality improvement, informatics, and patient-centred care. Each of the skills identified represents a key component of evidence-informed decision making, and they all come together where nurses and patients meet—at the point of care. Nurses must be engaged in continuous learning to acquire patient-centred and treatment-focused information in new and more rewarding ways. Our team has been studying the effectiveness of PDAs and mobile tablet personal computers (tablet PCs) for improving nurses’ access to evidence-based resources at the point of care. Point of care in …

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