Voice of Experience: Mobile Medicine

Dr. Sameer Bade
Chief Medical Technology Officer
Medstar Health
Columbia, MD.

MANAGER’S PROFILE: Oversees clinical and medical information technology for $2.7 billion nonprofit system of seven hospitals in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C., area.

MEDICINE IN MOTION: Bade wanted doctors to access medical and pharmaceutical records and maintain e-mail, messaging and voice capabilities, all while on the move. Around 2000, many doctors carried a pager, personal digital assistant and cell phone.

THE RIGHT FIT: An internal-medicine physician and biomedical informatics expert, Bade wanted to build a system flexible enough to handle anything he threw its way. If that meant allowing different devices and operating systems, so be it. But he tested handhelds, keeping a close eye on usability and size; if the device didn’t fit in a lab coat, it wouldn’t fly.

HIS PROJECT: Bade built MedStar’s infrastructure to support various mobile operating systems, since doctors carried different devices. Today, Palm’s Treo 700w, which runs Microsoft’s Windows Mobile platform, helps doctors tap into applications, including an application that holds test results. His team even built software to “push” e-mail to the Treo, similar to the way Research in Motion’s BlackBerry works.

FEEDBACK LOOP: Running all those programs eats up the Treo 700w’s maximum usable memory space of 60 megabytes; Bade hopes future models will include more memory out of the box. Also on his wish list: longer battery life. Palm says the 700w has a 4.7-hour battery life with full use. But Bade has had to put out extra chargers and batteries at MedStar facilities to keep staffers’ Treos from running out of juice.