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More than 300 students in Drexel's College of Nursing and Health Professions received iPod touch devices on their first day of classes in September 2009 as part of a new initiative to make critical medical information available at the touch of a finger.


The iPods are populated with valuable medical information that includes drug data, nursing procedure guides, drug adverse effects, and software to enable digital note taking. The devices will replace many of the existing thick nursing textbooks and, with the devices configured for wireless Internet, automatically update medical information.


The iPod touch is a pocket computer that enables access to Apple's App Store, the Internet, e-mail, and more on a 3.5-in "Multi-Touch" display, weighing 4 oz.


With built-in Wi-Fi, much of what can be accomplished online with a computer can be done with an iPod touch. In the case of Drexel's nursing students, perhaps just 10 years ago, it may have taken up to an hour to research the pertinent information now stored on the iPod touch and accessible in seconds.


Medical mistakes made at the point of care, including drug conflicts and incorrect nursing procedures, are a leading cause of preventable death in hospitals, making the need for updated, handheld information all the more critical.


The iPod touch devices will be configured to automatically download the latest drug information using Drexel's DragonFly wireless network. This will ensure students have the latest drug information, including newly discovered adverse effects and industry alerts.


Drexel's nursing college consistently receives National Council Licensure Examination scores above state averages. Part of this success is a result of the program's focus on using information technology to inform students on procedures and patient care.


The College of Nursing and Health Professions began using Pocket PC handheld devices in 2001 for access to drug and medical databases. However, the infrastructure required to support those devices was difficult to maintain in a fast-paced academic and clinical environment. Students were regularly required to update their Pocket PCs through their computers, and applications were often hard to install. The iPod touch was selected because of its ease of use and available technical support.


Drexel was the first university to require all incoming students to have a computer, in 1983, and the first university to provide free voice-recognition software to its 17,000 students, in 2000. Drexel was also the first university to launch a mobile Web-portal service for students, DrexelOne Mobile, in 2002. DrexelOne Mobile enables students to retrieve a range of information such as grades via virtually any Web-enabled handheld device.


For more information on Drexel University's College of Nursing and Health Professions, visit the Web site



In an effort to advance health information interoperability, MedicAlert Foundation International and SNOMED Terminology Solutions (STS) are working together to standardize the health information in the MedicAlert Emergency Medical Information Record (EMIR), making it easier for consumers to connect their emergency medical information to other health information applications currently available on the Microsoft HealthVault Platform.


Health information interoperability and electronic health record (EHR) adoption are key components of US healthcare reform initiatives, included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, to move toward a nationwide interoperable health information technology (HIT) system.


The MedicAlert EMIR that will serve as the emergency information component of an EHR is a secure central repository of medical information and provides critical information in combination with MedicAlert's 24-hour emergency response service.


SNOMED Clinical Terms (SNOMED CT)-a globally recognized controlled medical vocabulary-will serve as the standard healthcare terminology within the system's backbone. Terminology including conditions, allergies, immunizations, and medical devices will be mapped to SNOMED CT. MedicAlert EMIR's use of standards will allow information to flow from it to other EHRs that use similar standards, thus achieving interoperability between systems.


The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act incentives advocate standards-based solutions that enable the meaningful use of HIT, although the federal definition of "meaningful use" has not been finalized. In August, the HIT Standards Committee, the federal advisory panel on HIT standards, endorsed recommendations on how providers may electronically record a physician's observations to qualify for federal bonuses. The recommendations include ICD-9 or SNOMED CT in 2011, or ICD-10 or SNOMED CT in 2013, and SNOMED CT in 2015.


The SNOMED Terminology Solutions is a division of the College of American Pathologists (CAP), the original creator of SNOMED CT. With a 40-year history of terminology development and through its STS division, CAP focuses on consulting, education, and other services related to SNOMED CT and other terminologies and classifications where SNOMED is often used collaboratively.


MedicAlert Foundation International pioneered the first medical identification service in 1956 as a way to provide people with a simple but effective method for communicating medical information to emergency responders so patients receive faster and safer treatment.



The Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers, a national group of 33 nurse workforce organizations, has announced the ratification of national minimum data sets in the areas of nursing supply, nursing demand, and nursing education programs.


To develop the three data sets, the forum's committee members-all of whom were volunteers-began a rigorous process of consensus building with support from the Center to Champion Nursing in America, an initiative of AARP. The first step was to establish a research group with representation from all subscriber states and then to assess nursing data elements customarily collected by each state, along with the value or weight of these data elements in terms of state and national efforts.


Forum committee members organized their work into three groups of members, each charged with drafting a minimum nursing data set for supply, demand, and education. This culminated in a data summit, held in March 2009 in Biloxi, MS. Representatives from 23 states who attended the data summit reviewed the drafts in detail and discussed the pros and cons of different measurement approaches.


The forum then conducted a public comment period, soliciting input from experts and representatives from national organizations, both public and private. This input was used to revise the data sets once again and to submit the drafts to each of the states that subscribe to the forum. By a process of voting, the forum ratified the collaboratively created data sets in September 2009.


The Forum Steering Committee is interested in collaborating with other national groups and organizations interested in supporting, funding, and participating in the process as it moves forward.


Established in 2002, the forum's goals are to ensure the availability of standardized core nursing supply and demand data sets, achieve consensus on the key elements needed to forecast nursing supply and demand, promote dynamic and strategically driven processes for nursing workforce long-range planning, disseminate successful practices related to contemporary nursing workforce issues, share resources related to creating and sustaining statewide nursing workforce entities, and provide a collective force for developing and disseminating state nursing workforce policy initiatives. For more information about the Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers, visit


CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ISSUE[horizontal ellipsis]

William Perry, MA, RN, is Senior Systems Analyst at Kettering Health Network and an Adjunct Instructor at Wright State University College of Nursing and Health.