Few medical training programs today can compare to the innovative new curriculum launched by Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Recognizing that no student can memorize the enormous volume of data available in today's growing medical subspecialties, the school's new program teaches students to store and retrieve data so they can continue to learn throughout their professional lives.
To facilitate access to this critical healthcare information, the School of Medicine recently began to provide second-through fourth-year students, who spend more time on direct patient care, with a handheld device to carry with them on their rounds.
As part of their technology-based curriculum, the medical school is developing an optimal solution using IBM WorkPad PC Companions which, linked to a synchronization data server, will deliver medical and reference information instantaneously. Doctors will enjoy their newfound ability to look up critical reference information to better care for patients. They will also be able to store their colleagues' pager numbers, including senior physicians, and download reference databases from the Internet to improve their diagnostic skills. They can even use the handheld to catalog the procedures they do on rotations rather than scribbling them on scraps of paper as in the past.
An early adopter, Dr. Wesley Davis of the Medical Center's Department of Obstetrics-Gynecology, says, "I store in my IBM WorkPad information on drug dosing, procedures and patients--basically, all the things you can't remember, but need to. Its form factor is a huge improvement over paper, plus the 'search' capability gives me control over the information I need, when I need it."
So far, the school has acquired more than 375 IBM WorkPad handhelds. This may be the first widespread use of handhelds by a university -- and Wake Forest intends to stay in the lead. "The Palm OSŪ platform has the potential to revolutionize the way our medical center departments run and communicate," said Dr. Johannes Boehme II, associate dean for academic computing. "We see an unlimited potential with this platform that could lead to the development of customized departmental applications and the eventual deployment of several thousand WorkPads."
The medical school is currently assessing a solution combining the Palm OSŪ platform with Riverbed Technology's Scout server and PUMATECH's Satellite Forms development environment to make e-mail, scheduling, and medical reference material available to students and instructors alike. To these future doctors and their patients, the mobility and power of the Palm OSŪ platform may end up being a real life-saver.