In order for health workers to provide effective patient care, access to timely information is essential. In the Caribbean, nurses often lack basic resources, work remotely, and are isolated, which makes data sharing challenging. Enhancing Nurses Access for Care Quality and Knowledge through Technology (ENACQKT) empowers nurses by providing training and other services via PDAs. A key component of ENACQKT is building nurses’ capacity through technology instruction, giving them the means to access healthcare applications through the PDAs provided by the program. This enhances professional development and improves quality of care for patients.
On each of the four islands, 40 to 50 PDAs were distributed to nursing staff. Each hand-held unit is pre-loaded with programs the participants have previously identified as important, including policy and procedure manuals, a medication handbook, laboratory diagnostics, a symptom-interpretation program, critical-thinking tools, and a medical calculator. Through the wireless access to the Internet the units can also access international health-care databases and nursing discussion forums. It is envisioned that with a PDA and some training in its use, they will be able to provide such answers almost instantaneously.
Project principals report several achievements, including time savings for nurses and greater access to information, particularly in the areas of medication and treatment support. The project also reports success in imparting a sense of empowerment to the nurses in terms of speaking to physicians about conditions, treatments, and diagnosis.