HHS offers free clinical PDA app

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is making its first clinical application for personal digital assistants available as a free download.

The Pneumonia Severity Index Calculator can help doctors quickly and easily determine whether patients with community-acquired pneumonia need to be treated at home or in a hospital by making medical research and evidence available at the point of care, Dr. Carolyn Clancy, AHRQ's director, said yesterday.

The calculator is "an example of how technology can support and facilitate the delivery of evidence-based medicine," Clancy said. Handheld computers hold the promise of making large databases of information available to clinicians as they care for patients, she said.

Community-acquired pneumonia contracted outside of a hospital or nursing home environment affects approximately 4 million Americans and costs approximately $10 billion to treat each year. Nearly all of that cost, about 92 percent, goes toward treating hospitalized patients. But a sizable number of low-risk patients can be treated safely on an outpatient basis, research by the Health and Human Services Department agency has concluded.

MDpda Design Inc. of Miami, which developed the Pneumonia Severity Index Calculator for AHRQ, based the app on a clinical algorithm created by the AHRQ-funded Pneumonia Patient Outcomes Research Team. The calculator is available in Palm OS, Pocket PC and HTML formats.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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