Deployed electronic medical reference

Mil Med. 2012 Jan;177(1):32-5. doi: 10.7205/milmed-d-11-00216.


Deployed medical professionals often do not have adequate access to medical reference materials. The objective of this study was to determine the feasibility and perceived benefit of providing reference materials in electronic format to deployed personnel. Prototype e-readers were provided to five physicians deploying to Afghanistan over a 6-month period from September 2009 to March 2010. Selected medical textbooks were converted to electronic format and provided to the physicians via the e-readers. The subjects later completed a questionnaire regarding their experience with the e-readers. Physicians with Internet access were able to reliably download additional content to their e-readers while deployed, although downloading was usually slow. Texts were used for a variety of purposes and could be read in most lighting conditions. The e-readers were easy to navigate, but lacked adequate search functions. The e-readers were adequately durable and were easily transported by the individual. Overall, e-textbooks were valuable to the physicians in this study. However, opportunities for improvement include increasing the availability of textbooks in appropriate electronic format, simplifying distribution, and building an index and search functions within e-texts.

MeSH terms

  • Feasibility Studies
  • Humans
  • Microcomputers*
  • Military Medicine*
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Textbooks as Topic*
  • United States