Objective: To describe a system for recording resident experience involving hand-held computers with the Palm Operating System (3 Com, Inc., Santa Clara, CA).
Program description: Hand-held personal computers (PCs) are popular, easy to use, inexpensive, portable, and can share data among other operating systems. Residents in our program carry individual hand-held database computers to record Residency Review Committee (RRC) reportable patient encounters. Each resident's data is transferred to a single central relational database compatible with Microsoft Access (Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, WA). Patient data entry and subsequent transfer to a central database is accomplished with commercially available software that requires minimal computer expertise to implement and maintain. The central database can then be used for statistical analysis or to create required RRC resident experience reports. As a result, the data collection and transfer process takes less time for residents and program director alike, than paper-based or central computer-based systems.
Conclusion: The system of collecting resident encounter data using hand-held computers with the Palm Operating System is easy to use, relatively inexpensive, accurate, and secure. The user-friendly system provides prompt, complete, and accurate data, enhancing the education of residents while facilitating the job of the program director.