Background: This study implemented and evaluated a point-of-care, wireless Internet access using smart phones for information retrieval during daily clinical rounds and academic activities of internal medicine residents in a community hospital. We did the project to assess the feasibility of using smart phones as an alternative to reach online medical resources because we were unable to find previous studies of this type. In addition, we wanted to learn what Web-based information resources internal medicine residents were using and whether providing bedside, real-time access to medical information would be perceived useful for patient care and academic activities.
Methods: We equipped the medical teams in the hospital wards with smart phones (mobile phone/PDA hybrid devices) to provide immediate access to evidence-based resources developed at the National Library of Medicine as well as to other medical Websites. The emphasis of this project was to measure the convenience and feasibility of real-time access to current medical literature using smart phones.
Results: The smart phones provided real-time mobile access to medical literature during daily rounds and clinical activities in the hospital. Physicians found these devices easy to use. A post-study survey showed that the information retrieved was perceived to be useful for patient care and academic activities.
Conclusion: In community hospitals and ambulatory clinics without wireless networks where the majority of physicians work, real-time access to current medical literature may be achieved through smart phones. Immediate availability of reliable and updated information obtained from authoritative sources on the Web makes evidence-based practice in a community hospital a reality.