A complete and accurate patient assessment database is essential for effective communication, problem identification, planning and evaluation of patient status. When employed consistently for point-of-care documentation, information systems are associated with completeness and quality of documentation. The purpose of this paper is to report on the findings of a randomized, cross-over study conducted to evaluate the adequacy of a standard patient assessment module to support problem identification, care planning and tracking of nursing sensitive patient outcomes. The feasibility of wireless devices to support patient assessment data collection at the point-of-care was evaluated using wireless PDAs and tablet PCs. Seventy-nine (79) nurses from two patient care units at Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston, MA) were recruited into the study and randomized to complete patient assessment using wireless or paper devices. At the end of six weeks, nurses who where randomized to the paper assessment module were assigned to a device and those who used a device were assigned to paper for an additional six weeks. Impact was evaluated with regard to data capture, workflow implications and nurse satisfaction. Findings suggest that a standard patient assessment set promotes patient sensitive and quality data capture, which is augmented by the use of wireless devices
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