Design and evaluation of a personal digital assistant-based alerting service for clinicians
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Purpose: This study describes the system architecture and user acceptance of a suite of programs that deliver information about newly updated library resources to clinicians’ personal digital assistants (PDAs). Description: Participants received headlines delivered to their PDAs alerting them to new books, National Guideline Clearinghouse guidelines, Cochrane Reviews, and National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Alerts, as well as updated content in UpToDate, Harrison's Online, Scientific American Medicine, and Clinical Evidence. Participants could request additional information for any of the headlines, and the information was delivered via email during their next synchronization. Participants completed a survey at the conclusion of the study to gauge their opinions about the service. Results/Outcome: Of the 816 headlines delivered to the 16 study participants’ PDAs during the project, Scientific American Medicine generated the highest proportion of headline requests at 35%. Most users of the PDA Alerts software reported that they learned about new medical developments sooner than they otherwise would have, and half reported that they learned about developments that they would not have heard about at all. While some users liked the PDA platform for receiving headlines, it seemed that a Web database that allowed tailored searches and alerts could be configured to satisfy both PDA-oriented and email-oriented users.