A&E staff at Birmingham Heartlands and Solihull NHS Trust are trialling PDAs containing a Swiss Army knife range of features including voice recording, video camera, clinical decision support software and medical data, in an effort to cut down on the amount of devices and paperwork they carry.

The trial is headed by David Morgan, consultant ENT surgeon at the hospital and director of Intelligent Medical Microsystems, who also pioneered the use of active WiFi tagging for patients going into theatre at the hospital. All A&E doctors have been given Sendo X Smartphones (left) with 65k colour screens.

Morgan said: "It is a logical step to utilise mobile phone technology to improve patient care and save time. We will be working closely with the A&E staff during the trial period to develop further the medical application of the Smartphone."

Morgan told EHI that the phone was superior "It shortens the amount of time to assess. [Beforehand] we’d try to find a screen we can use. You have to log onto the screen and log onto the hospital intranet. That takes about an extra ten minutes."

The software and data loaded onto the phone include a 137-page casualty guidelines programme, a clinical library and MP3s of abnormal heart and lung sounds. According to Morgan, A&E patients were getting better care because of the project because doctors didn’t have to leave the patients to look up reference data.

"They have been using it for around two and a half months," Morgan told EHI, saying that so far the pilots have been going well, although some of the older staff took a while to get used to the system.

Another advantage of the system is that the phones incorporate hospital pagers. "The cost of a bleeper is £250 each and the only thing it does it bleep," said Morgan.

Although the phone system is not integrated into the hospital’s intranet, Morgan still argues that the standalone systems are useful in themselves to A&E clinicians.

Martin Shalley, A&E consultant at Heartlands, said: "It is a great system that helps casualty doctors. Any process that moves away from a paper base will improve patient care."

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