J Am Med Inform Assoc 10:139-149 doi:10.1197/jamia.M1180
  • The Practice of Informatics
  • Review Paper

Handheld Computing in Medicine

  1. Sandra Fischer,
  2. Thomas E Stewart,
  3. Sangeeta Mehta,
  4. Randy Wax,
  5. Stephen E Lapinsky
  1. Affiliations of the authors: Technology Application Unit, Intensive Care Unit, Mount Sinai Hospital, and Interdepartmental Division of Critical Care, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence and reprints: Stephen E. Lapinsky, MB, BCh, FRCPC, Director, Technology Application Unit, Associate Director, ICU, Mount Sinai Hospital, 600 University Ave. #1825, Toronto, Ontario M5G 1X5, Canada; e-mail: <stephen.lapinsky{at}>
  • Received 27 June 2002
  • Accepted 14 October 2002


Handheld computers have become a valuable and popular tool in various fields of medicine. A systematic review of articles was undertaken to summarize the current literature regarding the use of handheld devices in medicine. A variety of articles were identified, and relevant information for various medical fields was summarized. The literature search covered general information about handheld devices, the use of these devices to access medical literature, electronic pharmacopoeias, patient tracking, medical education, research, business management, e-prescribing, patient confidentiality, and costs as well as specialty-specific uses for personal digital assistants (PDAs).

The authors concluded that only a small number of articles provide evidence-based information about the use of PDAs in medicine. The majority of articles provide descriptive information, which is nevertheless of value. This article aims to increase the awareness among physicians about the potential roles for handheld computers in medicine and to encourage the further evaluation of their use.


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