Medical reference: up to date.
Background: The medical knowledge base is continually expanding. Collecting, reading, synthesizing, and applying the most reliable new information to the patient in front of you remains a formidable challenge. Medical textbooks are reliable, but they are quickly dated and don't fit well in your coat pocket. Topical reviews at CME sessions are useful but may be jaded by the biases and preferences of presenters or sponsors. Although peer-reviewed medical journals provide cutting-edge content, the focus tends to be more limited in terms of the specific subject matter of each journal and search capabilities are limited to the table of contents. Furthermore, many articles address only new developments that aren't validated or accepted as standard of practice.
Fortunately, advances in medical informatics and computer technology have improved our ability to manage medical information. Online medical libraries such as MDConsult have placed an expansive amount of information at our fingertips. Web sites like www.cdc.gov serve as bulletin boards for medical alerts and repositories of practice guidelines. And PubMed has revolutionized our ability to peruse the world's medical journals with just a few keystrokes. Many of these resources are now available to handheld computer users, bringing the latest medical information to point of care.
Description: UpToDate is one such product. Produced by UpToDate Inc. of Wellesley, Mass., the application was initially developed for desktop computers over 10 years ago. A handheld computer version was released earlier this year for Pocket PC platform only. Approximately 50,000 pages of primary care, internal medicine, pediatric, and ob.gyn. text are updated continuously by a staff of nearly 3,000 physician editors. The most current content may be accessed online, but all subscribers are sent a quarterly CD-based update. An active subscription to UpToDate (individual, $495 a year; group/enterprise subscriptions available) is required for both desktop and handheld applications and may be ordered from the company Web site.
Content for the Pocket PC version of UpToDate may be accessed either on-device (requires loading the UpToDate CD material onto a 1-gigabyte CompactFlash memory card) or accessed wirelessly from the Internet if the handheld is so equipped. In either case, the program uses Microsoft Internet Explorer to display content. Searches are initiated by keyword entry. Alternatively, a tap-sensitive link to a broad, specialty-based table of contents is provided along the top margin of the screen. Searches are progressively focused through tap selection of displayed hyperlinks. Content of interest is clearly displayed and includes tap-sensitive imbedded links to relevant graphics and Medline citations, as well as comprehensive drug information (Lexi-Comp). The bottom of the screen includes icon links to familiar Internet Explorer functions (including Back, Refresh, Home, and Favorites).
Final Notes: UpToDate is a continuously updated, comprehensive medical database for desktop and Pocket PC handheld computers. Keyword- and hyperlink-focused searches facilitate rapid access to the most current medical information available. Links to helpful graphics, drug information, and Medline abstracts are additional impressive features.
Power up your Pocket PC with UpToDate!
Developer: UpToDate Inc.
Web site: www.uptodate.com
Platform: Pocket PC
System requirements: Pocket PC with CompactFlash card expansion slot, 1-gigabyte CompactFlash card, card reader, and UpToDate subscription.
Cost: Free to current desktop subscribers (individual subscription $495 a year)
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DR. THOMAS G. MCLEOD and DR. JON O. EBBERT are with the division of community internal medicine at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Their reviews are independent evaluations, and they receive no compensation from and do not consult with the manufacturers of the products evaluated in this column.