A Usability Study of Nurses' Interaction with Tablet PC and PDA Nursing Documentation Applications

N.J. Rodríguez, J.A. Borges, G. Crespo, C. Pérez, C. Martinez, C.R. Colón-Rivera, and A. Ardín (Puerto Rico)


Mobile electronic medical records, usability testing


The portability and wireless connectivity of Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and Tablet PCs make them viable technologies for many mobile applications. These devices are very well suited for accessing and capturing clinical data at bedside in a hospital. However, no formal studies appear in the literature that compare these two technologies in order to help understand their advantages and disadvantages for this type of mobile applications. This paper describes a usability study that does so for a clinical application. The study compares the interaction of nurses with PDA and Tablet PC versions of a nursing documentation application in terms of performance and subjective satisfaction. The results of the study support the conclusion that it is possible to design PDA-based nursing documentation applications that allow nurses to achieve similar performance and satisfaction levels as with a Tablet PC-based application. The small screen size and display resolution of the PDAs are not factors that limit nurses’ performance and satisfaction in comparison to Tablet PCs. Because of its small size and weight PDAs are preferred over Tablet PCs.

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