Handhelds help hospital consultants

York NHS Trust unveiled a wireless project to share electronic patient records via handheld devices at this week's Healthcare...

York NHS Trust unveiled a wireless project to share electronic patient records via handheld devices at this week's Healthcare Computing 2002 event in Harrogate.

The project, which builds on the trust's existing wireless network, will enable consultants to share information when visiting wards, via Compaq iPaq handheld devices.

Sue Rushbrook, head of systems and network services at York NHS Trust, said, "Anything that gives clinicians faster access to information to inform their decisions must improve patient care."

A pilot scheme will be up and running for 20 consultants within the next three months, she said.

The iPaqs will also employ Internet protocol telephony over the wireless local area network to enable the delivery of voice and data services. The ability to enter information at the point of contact with the patient is critical to an effective data strategy, Rushbrook said.

"If you don't give people the ability to enter data at the point of contact and ensure that it is accurate, you will never get good data quality."

Data quality is a major issue for the NHS. Last week an Audit Commission report revealed that few NHS trusts in England fully comply with basic good practice in collecting non-clinical patient information.

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