Palm Inc., the provider of mobile and wireless Internet solutions and handheld data devices, has awarded grants to 17 US universities and teaching hospitals to promote the use of mobile data devices in medicine and research how handhelds affect students’ learning.

Under the new programme Palm has provided a total of 1,000 Palm IIIc handheld computers and supporting software for students studying medicine, dentistry, pharmacology and veterinary medicine.

Universities and medical schools awarded grants include: Yale University School of Medicine; Johns Hopkins School of Medicine; Georgetown University School of Medicine; and University of California at San Francisco School of Pharmacy.

Students with Palm handhelds will have easy access to pharmaceutical formularies, trusted protocols and guidelines, lab results, patient information, pharmacy records and other information, and be able to generate and capture notes more easily.

The programme is intended to explore how Palm personal digital assistants (PDAs) can help medical students better manage the enormous volume of information required for today’s growing medical and dental sub-specialties

Mike Lorion, Palm’s vice president of education, said: "These grants enable research to help medical and dental faculty gain insight into the best ways of integrating handhelds into the teaching and learning of a wide variety of healthcare professions."

The 17 grant winning institutions will use Palm handhelds in a variety of ways, ranging from clinical rotations, tracking patient care, and accessing health information, to downloading anatomical diagrams, accessing medical library resources and managing patient records.

"Educators tell us that students cannot memorise the enormous volume of information required for today’s growing medical and dental sub-specialties, so they are turning to Palm handhelds to instantly retrieve and store information so they may provide faster, more accurate patient diagnosis and treatment," said Lorion.