You may be offering CME on the Web. But are you offering it in a format that can be read on a personal digital assistant (PDA)? These little devices are becoming a popular means for physicians to communicate and obtain information, according to a recent survey conducted by AvantGo, Inc., a provider of mobile enterprise software. The study also cites the future PDA functionality that doctors believe will make them even more efficient and effective.

The physicians surveyed were all already users of PDAs. All felt that mobile devices could significantly improve patient care. Specifically, 92% of physicians with PDAs are using their devices multiple times per day to keep calendars, access drug reference guides and read medical journals. These doctors would also like to be able to use their PDAs to access medical reference websites (48%), write and transmit prescriptions (33%), access pharmaceutical manufacturers websites (28%) and keep records of clinical trials (27%), while fully 93% of respondents claim that this additional information would enable them to provide improved patient care and make them more productive.

Not surprisingly, the survey results also indicate that PDAs are an effective tool for pharmaceutical companies to communicate with physicians. In the survey, 84% of doctors felt that the time they spent with their pharmaceutical representatives would be more valuable to them if the representatives had immediate access to important drug or clinical trial information on their PDAs. Additionally, 86% felt the value they derived from pharmaceutical companies would be dramatically increased if pharmaceutical companies offered an on-device channel that would provide them with the latest information, including product collateral on new drugs, clinical trial results and industry news.

Fully 86% of the doctors surveyed felt that if their affiliated hospitals supported mobile devices, it would significantly improve the quality of in-hospital patient care. Yet, only 20% of the affiliated hospitals currently offer this support.

``These results are consistent with what we have experienced at Harvard Medical School, where we provide value-added services that help medical students use their PDAs more effectively, improving physician workflow and reducing our costs,'' says John Halamka, assistant dean of Harvard Medical School and CIO of Caregroup, Inc. in Boston. ``We have deployed a PDA solution that in just six months has eliminated $150,000 in paper costs and reduced the need for data entry personnel, as well as significantly improved our paper-based process. The solution has provided us with higher quality data and increased our form completion compliance from the usual 20%, delivered up to six weeks after the completion of a course, to 80% delivered in near real-time.''

The physician survey was completed by 3,482 self-identified physicians responding on their PDAs using the AvantGo mobile Internet service. The on-device survey was conducted over a four-week period. AvantGo is presenting the full survey results at the eyeforpharma e-Sales & Marketing: from Mobile to Wireless conference in Philadelphia, today and tomorrow, April 11 and 12.