The Palmdoc Chronicles

Saturday, November 30, 2002

The object of my desire......

When will they:

1) Come out with an Avantgo which is OS5.0 compatible
2) Release the promised MP3 player
3) Lower the price.......

Thursday, November 28, 2002

What's the PDA usage like in your workplace?
At the hospital where I work, there are 100+ staff specialists.
The breakdown of PDA usage is as follows:

Total No. of PDA Users - 19
Palm OS - 15 (m5xx series - 7, Vx -2, m130-1, Clie -3, Visor -2)
PPC - 4 (all iPaqs)

Looks like PalmOS is the dominant one......

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

If you're in a hospital ever notice the increasing use of PDAs amongst colleagues? You might have noticed they are also being used by the Pharma sales force (IIANM those dealing with Zuellig) - they can tally and report their visits electronically on their Palms and upload the data later. It's happening foks - the PDA revolution is here!
And here's yet another example of PDA usage in the field:

Mobility Electronics Palm Cradle Helps with Clinical Trials

Mobility Electronics has worked with Palm, Inc. to design a modem cradle for Document Solutions Group (DSG), a company that specializes in clinical trial electronic data collection. DSG plans to use Mobility Electronics Portsmith subsidiary’s device-specific modem cradles with Palm handheld computers to capture Patient Diary clinical data for pharmaceutical companies.

According to DSG, it offers its pharmaceutical clients Palm handheld computers configured to collect trial-specific information. The companies said that through these devices, physicians and sponsor personnel, such as monitors, can track subjects' reactions to investigational drugs in real time, providing trial sponsors with more accurate data faster. Subjects record their reactions on the handheld and transmit the data by placing the device in Portsmith's modem-equipped cradle. The data is then uploaded into DSG's CRFs (Case Report Forms) in either a stand-alone diary database or through DSG's eCaseLink electronic data capture software and can be viewed by sites and sponsors to determine trends in the data.

Since August 2002, DSG has been collecting clinical trial information in the U.S. using Palm m500 handhelds and Portsmith's device-specific modem cradles.

Source: Palm Boulevard

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Ah.... if only I had a Palm PDA when I was a medical student. Shucks, there were hardly any computers back then - vaguely recall some TRS-80 or something very primitive back then :) Life would have been much easier, being able to carry all the lecture notes and what-not around, hand references literally in the Palm of your hand. I can imagine also taking lecture notes with a Palm and PPK keyboard.
Well, the Med Students at IMU have come up with their very own Med Student PDA webpage called the IMU PDA User Group. Great effort chaps!

Using your PDA for data collection

This article about PDA usage for data capture in clinical trials is very interesting.

"Participating physicians and researchers who make house calls to the DVT patients will use the Palm handhelds with PHT's solution, called SitePad, to input critical medical data onsite. With this portable solution, patient symptoms such as swelling and pain, fever and rapid heart rates are captured, sorted and analyzed in real time. Reactions to and effects of treatments are also duly noted and saved. This mobile solution saves researchers time and reduces errors associated with paper diaries, giving medical research facilities accurate and attributable clinical trial data in electronic form for regulatory approval.

PHT will supply clinical investigators with the SitePad solution, which runs on the Palm m515 handheld. Observations and data are entered directly into the SitePad at a patient's bedside. Once investigators return to their offices and clinics, all captured information is uploaded directly to the secure PHT Study Server via a specially designed modem called the TeleCradle. Physicians and researchers involved in the study can access the secure Study Server to analyze the trial results in real time.

At the moment I enjoy using HanDbase as a flexible Data collection tool. You plan your own database and can input PopUps to speedup entry of common items in each field. The data files can be exported to Excel or Access. I believe there is great potential in this area. As a data collection device, PDAs are very much underused and underrated. Out with pen and paper!!

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Do PDAs save lives?

Food for thought. There's this newsbit from Palm Boulevard about PDAs loaded with Skyscape medical applications for use in Africa where medical information resources are scarce. I wonder if this has ever been so in my case. I have always viewed the Skyscape apps as a handy mobile references. At the most they have saved me some time rather than having to search for printed references. Perhaps detecting drug interactions which I would not have suspected would be the closest thing to "life saving". When it comes to information at your fingertips, I would need wireless Internet access to search Medline. As WiFi is not pervasive enough, GPRS still costing an arm and a leg, there is still a long way to go before we can have true unlimited access to medical information. It won't be long I hope before this dream becomes reality....

Saturday, November 23, 2002

Using Bluetooth and GPRS

More ramblings on my Wireless Palm experience using Bluetooth and Digi's GPRS - this is a basic Walk-through


Phone: Ericsson t39m. Although this phone is an older model, it's reasonably priced (RM800+) for all the features you are getting including GPRS and Bluetooth built-in. Voice reception is good and with the Ericsson Bluetooth headset you get complete wireless handsfree. The higher end Ericsson t68i costs twice as much but if you fancy colour then go for it.

PDA: Palm m515 (cost RM1350). Good value for money color PDA for first time buyers. Runs on Palm OS 4.1 and has lots of software available form the Internet, many of which are free. Many medical software applications are also available on the Palm format.

Palm accessory: Palm Bluetooth SD card. The m515 does not have built-in Bluetooth (later models with OS 5 are likely to have this built-in). This is a little pricey (RM490). An alternative is the TDK Bluetooth Sled but it's more bulky. Bluetooth allows you to connect wirelessly to your Bluetooth capable phone within about 10 feet range. This is very convenient as the other wireless connection commonly used is IR (Infrared) which requires "line of sight" and is short range. With Bluetooth, your phone could be in your pocket or briefcase and the Palm can still communicate with it.

Setting Up Everything

1. Setting up Bluetooth connection between the Palm and Ericsson t39m

This is fairly straightforward. The Palm BT SD card comes with a CD which installs the appropriate drivers for the Palm and also the Ericsson t39m phone driver (other phone drivers are available from Palm). You need to enable the BT on the Ericsson - change the Operation mode to Always On (Menu 5/Bluetooth/Operation Mode). From the Preferences panel select Phone and make sure the Ericsson BT phone is selected and you can click the Test button to test the connection.

2. Setup the GPRS data connection on the Ericsson t39m and Palm

This information is for Digi since I am using Digi's GPRS service. The service is available for both pre and post-paid Digi users and costs 10s/10kb (post-paid) or 20s/10kb (pre-paid). Post-paid users are charge RM2/mth.

Phone Setup for Internet connection via GPRS for t39m

1. Go to Settings menu and scroll to Data comm
2. Press the Yes button and choose Data accounts
3. Choose Add accounts and press the Yes button
4. Choose GPRS Data and press the Yes button
5. Enter the new account name and press the Yes button
6. Choose APN and press the Yes button
7. Enter the APN and press the Yes button
8. Leave User id and Password empty
9. Scroll down to Save and press the Yes button
10. The phone will prompt ?New GPRS account created?

Field Name Values:

New account name GPRS Internet
APN diginet
User id Nil
Password Nil
Password request Off
Allow calls Automatic
IP Address Nil
DNS Address Nil
Advan.settings Nil

For other GPRS providers or other phones you can consult their respective web pages

Palm Settings

- goto Prefs > Network, create a new Service and put in digi for both User Name and Password

- type in *9***1# for Phone:
- under Details, unselect Query DNS and type in & for the DNS fields
- leave IP Address: Automatic checked
- under Script, make sure you have selected End
- now click OK twice and GPRS on your Palm via BT to your phone is ready to use

If you got all the above working, then your Palm should be able to "talk" wirelessly to the Bluetooth capable phone and also connect to the Internet via Digi's GPRS service.

Friday, November 22, 2002

Decided to complement this site with more ramblings from my Blurty blog site. Mainly because I am undecided which Blogging site suits me more. I like Blurty 'cos it allows me to upload my entries via Avantgo using my Palm . Have to be on my PC for Blogger.....

Why doctors should carry a Palm and not a PocketPC

  • Palm PDAs are smaller - won't compete as much for your already crammed pockets
  • Palm PDAs have a better battery life - won't conk out on you after a long clinic or ward round
  • Lots more medical software for PalmOS in general compared to PPC

But most importantly of all, Palms can do this but PPCs cannot ;)

Palmdoc goes wireless - or how to surf wirelessly using your Palm and Bluetooth

Equipment: Palm m515 + Palm BT SD Card; PC on WinXP with ADSL connection;
MSI USB Bluetooth adaptor

The MSI BT adaptor comes with a set of drivers on CD. Installation was quite
smooth on WinXP. You get a Bluetooth Neighbourhood on your Desktop and you
can connect to PC or LAN via Bluetooth to other BT devices. It's pretty
cheap too RM160 (USD 42)

I anxiously tried a BT to PC connection from my Palm and indeed it could
establish the pairing though the Palm had to do the initiation. With a Palm
to PC virtual serial (Com4 on my machine) connection I can Hotsync
wirelessly via BT though it is slower compared to the cradle but faster than

Attempt #1:
First attempt at wireless surfing was to use MochaPPP since I have
established a virtual Com port connection. Unfortunately MochaPPP does not
recognize the virtual Com port so scratch that option. (It may work with the Tungsten T though, according to a review in Palminfocentre)

Attempt #2
The MSI USB BT adaptor also automatically sets up a virtual Bluetooth
Network Adaptor which WinXP recognises. You need to adjust the Internet
Connection sharing for the Bluetooth LAN.
I managed to establish a Palm to LAN connection which was recognized by the
PC and a new Connection in the Prefs was established. After some twiddling
about with the settings I managed to get wireless surfing enabled from my

Here's the settings:

Palm Prefs

Bluetooth Lan
Connect to: Local Network
Via: Bluetooth
Device: PCName
Speed 115,200 bps
Flow Ctl - Off

Service: Bluetooth Lan
Username: blank
Password; blank
DNS and (my ISPs DNS)
IP: (or similar)
Kicking off... Still with my trusty m515 Palm PDA, loaded with apps, only about 4MB left of the 16MB Ram available. Flash ram chock full of stuff too.
Currently most used apps are:

- Agendus
- HanDbase
- Avantgo
- Worldmate
- Wordsmith
- 5 Minute CLinical Consult
- Lexidrugs
- Medcalc