Palm Pilots

  1. Hello!
    I'm a second year BScN student at McMaster University in Ontario Canada. I'm looking to purchase a palm pilot and a program that can provide me with a quick reference guide for meds and lab tests (nursing diagnosis would be a bonus too). I'm sick and tired of lugging my books to my clinical placements and I'm wondering if any of you use such a tool and whether you find it helpful. If there are some fellow students or nurses out there that can recommend a certian program I would really appreciate your input. Looking forward to hearing from you, Peatness
  2. Visit Peatness profile page

    About Peatness

    Joined: Dec '02; Posts: 25; Likes: 2
    Visiting Nurse; from CA


  3. by   RNforLongTime
    I just bought a Palm m515 last week and I love it! There is so much free software out there! You can download things such as epocrates(a MUST!), PalmEKG, ABG decoder and all kinds of stuff all for free! Check out and and also . These are where I got most of my stuff. I payed 45 bucks for Kathy Whites Fast facts for Adult critical care and you can buy Tabers and Davis's Drug Guide too for download onto a Palm!

    I also bought a memory card, 64 MB! You can get em at Wal mart for under 40 bucks, depending on how much memory you want. Wish they had these when I was in Nursing school!

    Good luck!

  4. by   momoftriplets
    I too am interested in getting a palm pilot. All the docs and the residents in the ER use them all the time.(professionally and personally). I have been looking into them but have not made a decision into which kind. Please everyone who has one post a reply so we (I) can make an informed decision. Thanks
  5. by   ERNurse752
    I don't have one yet...plan on getting one soon though.

    Someone I work with has a Sony Clie (sp?) and it's pretty nice.
    She's downloaded a lot of stuff from the above-mentioned sites.

  6. by   opalmRN
    I have had my PP for the past year or so. I like it, but I have to admit it eats batteries like mad. I wish mine was like a cell phone where you could dock it and recharge it.

    Oh and I do have a docking station but it is for syncronizing the data on my PC with the PP not for recharging. In fact if you leave it in the docking station it actually runs the batteries down faster.

  7. by   RNforLongTime
    Hmm...what kind of Palm do you have opalm. Mines an m515 and I sit it in the Hotsync cradle nightly to recharge it. Just like a cell phone!
  8. by   chrn
    Finally...something I know something about!!
    Let me elaborate..
    You need to understand that "Palm" is a brand name for hardware devices -Palm Pilots, like the m515, etc.
    Palm is also an "operating system" (like Windows 98 or XP is an operating system). The Sony Clie' devices use the Palm operating system -Palm OS (current version is 4.1 or 5, I believe).
    Now there is a competitor called PocketPC. This is Microsoft's handheld device operating system.
    There is an ongoing debate about which operating system is best (more about that later). Key issues in the debate are:
    * Palm has had and continues to have the most freeware/ shareware and especially, clinical reference programs for doctors and nurses.
    * Palm is cheaper to buy initially.
    * Pocket PC is Microsoft, therefore inheritantly, compatable with other Microsoft products (like Office-Excel, Access, etc).
    * Pocket PC may be behind in the development of clinical software, but won't be second for long.
    I don't promote one or another. I just think people that are contemplating need to be aware of what these terms mean. (As I am sure many of you know. I am directing this at the beginning handheld user.)
    As far as the handhelds themselves, you can get a pretty good starter for $200-$300. The Sony Clie' has a color model for just over $200. Dell has just introduced a nice model for about $200. Most newer models have a minimum of 16mg of memory on the device and are expandable "to infinity" with cards. As mentioned in another post, you can get a 64mg memory card for less than $50. Best Buy online is a good place to look.
    Now for a primer on programs:
    Epocrates is one of the first medical reference programs to be widely adopted. It is a very comprehensive drug reference that gives dosages, indications, even prices. It is updated every time you synchronize your handheld. It has previously only been available in Palm OS, but they are currently developing a Pocket PC format that should be available in the next month or so. Epocrates is free for the basic program, you can get a couple of other versions for a reasonable fee, including Infectious Disease ref and formularies.
    Epocrates has traditionally been aimed at the physician market and does not have some things nurses need, such as monitoring information, teaching.
    Some drug programs that nurses like include Davis Drug Guide and Lexi-Comp.
    A very popular reference program is PepidRN. I only saw this demonstrated- it is a 20mg program and I didn't have room.
    An excellent site for all kinds of information, program downloads, even buying a handheld loaded with the programs you want is [url] (previously RNPalm). Check out their list serv for pdas in nursing for the most current input by people using these devices every day. and are other good sites.
    Hope I didn't put you to sleep. I did a couple of PowerPoint presentations on handheld computers in healthcare- that would have been more appealing!!
    Good luck , Cindy
    Last edit by chrn on Feb 20, '03
  9. by   Dionysus
    Good Post Cindy! Maybe you might be able to give me some insight about PDA's....

    I too have been looking at pda's, but I fear that when/if I do buy a pda it won't be as usefull as I hoped it would be. Fortunately my clinical site is only 15-20 minutes away from where I live, and the center has all the books that I'd ever really need on the unit. I guess the main reason that i'd want one is that it would be a nice replacement for index cards and various other pieces of scrap paper that I carry in my pockets. I think for improving my own practice a bit of organization will go a long ways. Do many nurses use pda's for this purpose (organization), or is it commonly used as a reference tool?

    My second question is about colour vs. black and white pda's. Are the colour models really worth the money? I'd imagine they are a bit better on the eye's, and I guess it'd be much easier to bold words with colour. The *bling bling* factor on those models sure are high, and I'd be willing to bet they grow feet pretty quickly.

    Anyway's any thing that you or anybody else might be able to add would be much appreciated. Thanks.
  10. by   chrn
    PDA's are absolutely great for keeping all kinds of reference material, that is compact, mobile and up to date. Right now, that is what they do best.
    You can use them for "personal organizers"- date book, addresses, even sync your email. Mine syncs to my Outlook mail program at work.
    As far as other uses (replacing scrap paper and index cards), depends...
    You can get little programs that do calculations (IV rates, kinectics, BMI, etc.).
    When it comes to documenting patient assessments, there is a lot of potential just beginning to be tapped. It is VERY easy to create forms to input information into handhelds. There are very simple database programs that anyone can use to create forms. I believe DataViz is a popular one.
    Problem is synchronizing with the hospital or office information system. That is the only way programs like that are really useful- if you can "download" patient demographics, then "upload" your assessment.
    Some innovative nurses have created forms to collect data, then print it out. Will depend if your hospital would allow that.
    PDA's have infrared ports -IR. These can be used to "beam" information to another IR. You can beam your address, even whole programs (if shareware). Really cool is that you can beam a form you have created to an IR-enabled printer. I have done this. Useful application will be providers writing scripts, pointing to the printer and "da da!" - a nice, legible script. Or a nurse collects vitals and assessment data, point to the printer and "da da" -my nurses notes. for a free download of PrintBoy (?I think) for anyone who wants to try it. You do not need to do anything with the printer, as long as it has an IR port.
    Many people believe that IR communcations will be as popular as local networks. After all, your remote control has been using it for a long time.
    One last thing: color vs b/w (monochrome). Your right- invest in color if possible, especially for older eyes. Color uses more battery life. Most newer units have cadmium rechargeable power.
    Sorry so long, hope this helps
  11. by   RNforLongTime
    Cindy (chrn),

    A question for you, if you will. I've downloaded some freeware and then attempted to transfer the program onto my Palm. But then when I turn on my Palm the programs aren't there? But they show up in the list of programs when I go to the delete option under the OPTIONS menu? Why is this? Thanks in advance!

  12. by   opalmRN
    Originally posted by nurse-lou
    Hmm...what kind of Palm do you have opalm. Mines an m515 and I sit it in the Hotsync cradle nightly to recharge it. Just like a cell phone!
    Sorry it took me so long to get back to you, I had misplaced my PDA.
    I have a PalmIIIxe. Not very sophisticated and not color. I definetely know that sitting in the cradle drains it completely.

    I would like to get one that would recharge in the cradle but I can't justify the $$ right now. Maybe when I get further along in school.
  13. by   Peatness
    Wow! Thanks guys for all the great advice. I feel a little more educated in this regard! Every little bit of knowledge helps when you face the ferocious computer salesman. It' s always a good idea to fake like you know so they don't take you for a ride. Thanks again for the great info and sites. I can't wait to get my fresh little nursing hands on my own PDA. Cheers! Aniesse
  14. by   Jay-Jay
    I bought a Palm m130 just after Christmas, and it has replaced my drug book, my daytimer AND the pocket organizer where I used to store my patient's names and addresses! I LOVE it!!

    I also use it for personal notes, memos, etc. For example, I had an important meeting with my manager about an incident that had happened, and before the meeting, I jotted down what I wanted to say on the Palm in the Documents to Go program. I also have downloaded the Excel spreadsheet we use for recording our daily mileage, and now I can input it every day, at the end of the day, without even getting out of my car!

    Before I would have to wade through my daytimer a page at a time, and pick up the handwritten entry for that day, and record it on my log, then add it up, using a calculator (okay, this was BEFORE I got a computer that had Excel...when I transferred the Excel spreadsheet to Lotus 123 it quit adding up the columns automatically) It was SUCH a pain to have to do each month-end!!

    I know of some home nursing agencies in the States that do ALL their documentation on handhelds. record your patient's vitals, and all the other info from your initial assessment, then instantly send the info to the home office, so it is available to the next nurse who sees the patient, even BEFORE she makes her visit! I think that ROCKS!!

    Or, let's suppose the office has an emergency admission for you. You're MILES away, have no access to a fax machine. NO problem...they just send the info to your PDA! Mind, they'd have to improve the screen resolution a bit, or, use larger print than the CCAC does here on its referrals. I'm pushing 50, and doing an admission at night, even when you've got a faxed 8.5X11 hardcopy of the paperwork can be a real challenge to the ol' eyeballs!

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