Handheld personal digital assistants (PDA) are increasingly being used by physicians for a variety of information and data management purposes. We evaluated a PDA-based data management system for our acute pain service. A structured questionnaire survey was conducted to assess staff experience and attitude towards the paper system before the introduction of the PDA, and three months after introduction of the PDA system. We compared the time taken to conduct the acute pain round before and after the implementation of the PDA. The time saved in data management and the amount of paper saved were estimated. Data from 177 patients with a total of 635 acute pain follow-up visits were entered over a three-month period. User satisfaction, ease of access to drug reference and clinical guidelines were similar between the two systems. The respondents found that the PDA was easy to use but less so than the paper system (P = 0.007), in particular, when accessing a patient's cumulative data (P = 0.007). There was no missed follow-up or data entry with the use of PDA. The time taken to attend follow-up visits was similar for the two systems (Paper: 8.8 +/- 3.2 compared to PDA: 7.0 +/- 2.0 minutes, P = 0.151). The estimated annual amount of paper and time saved in data management was 650 sheets and 130 man-hours respectively. Our experience with the use of the PDA in APS was satisfactory. The PDA system can potentially reduce time and paper use and missed data entry and patient follow-up.