For years I told myself that all I needed were the reference books I had learned like the back of my hand while at med school. I would never need a PDA or other handheld device to help me do my job. But over the past few years I became increasingly frustrated on rounds as others found information more quickly than I could by using their PDAs. Now, 18 months after purchasing my first PDA, I am a firm believer in the power of the PDA, especially as a teaching tool on rounds.
One of the most exciting titles I have run across recently is a new software bundle from Skyscape the Clinical Constellation suite. I learned how to use it in less than two minutes and used it on rounds the very next day. I haven’t looked back since.
The information is formatted in such a way that it makes it easy to read. All of the titles fit easily on my Tungsten III, memory is not an issue. What really helps is that the Constellation suite comes with a table of contents that lets me get quickly to where I need to be, whether it is treatment procedures, drug interactions or medical dosing. Whatever information I need, I can get to with just a few taps of the stylus.
While I love using the Clinical Constellation suite for my own reference, where it really shines is when I am leading rounds.
Enhancing Teaching with the PDA
Using PDA-based references makes conducting rounds more efficient. This is especially important at a teaching hospital. Prior to the widespread adoption of PDAs, I found the rhythm of rounds was always being interrupted. When we posed a question and none of the medical students were sure of the answer, I would have to send someone to check information. This would interrupt my train of thought and would cause further disruption when the student returned with the answer.
Today, I can keep going while the students check the information on their PDA. This is much less disruptive and actually enhances the teaching process. I find the PDA so easy to use, I check it on at least 25 percent of my stops during rounds, and many other doctors at the hospital check it even more frequently.
Having The Right Tool For The Job
I always encounter different situations throughout my rounds and have found that no one reference is enough. That’s why I like how Skyscape has bundled so many references together.
By far, the 5-Minute Clinical Consult is my favorite reference. It has all the information of the 5MCC I used during Med School only better. I trust this content and don’t have to ask where the information I call up is coming from which can be an issue with other PDA medical references.
When I was leading rounds a few weeks ago, the Chairman Emeritus of our departments walked by and posed us a question regarding an esoteric disease. By simply clicking in 5-Minute Clinical Consult, I found the answer and could quickly link to the appropriate dosing information in the AHFS Dosing Companion.
Another great example of the versatility of the Clinical Constellation was when I was dealing with a potential infectious disease. I looked up Coryne bacterium in the 2004 Pocket Book of Infectious Disease Therapy to identify the different types and the preferred drugs for each. Prior to Clinical Constellation I would have had to stop rounds and check it up on a desktop PC. Now I can do it as I go.
Skyscape also includes the Archimedes Medical Calculator with the Clinical Constellation. Archimedes is a great reference and calculator and it is available for free. I have yet to find a formula that I need that isn’t in there. Now to be honest, I recently took seasoned practitioners who may not have utilized a certain formula in a while tell me how helpful they find the feature as well.
Easy to Install
I am not a computer pro, so I need references that are easy to install. To be honest, I expected to spend hours installing the software. But I simply went to the Skyscape site, clicked on the link and it installed on my PDA without any problems.
With more than 75 percent of residents at our hospital and almost 100 percent of the medical students having and using PDAs regularly it is crucial that we have the information we need on them. No one solution is going to answer all of our questions, which is why an integrated set of titles, such as the nine in Clinical Constellation, are such a handy guide. If one book doesn’t have the answer, another reference does. And with Skyscape, I can add any of the 240 titles they offer and those titles will immediately integrate with the Constellation suite.