Recent technological innovations - influenced primarily by the development of more sophisticated, faster and cheaper computer systems - permitted also the evolution of more affordable systems for Patient Data Management, so called PDM-Systems. The experience of the authors, on one of the first PDMS installation sites in Europe, shows that the purchase of such a system is not an easy task, since accurate data are not available in a comparable format. Therefore the first part of the book is devoted to a comparison of already installed, commercially distributed bedside based PDMS with regard to their specifications, functions and performance. The methods included a questionnaire with detailed questions for the vendors to answer and a "table of functions” comparing the most important functions which should be included in a PDMS. With that list the different systems (which were all in clinical use) were checked for the availability and the way of use of these functions. To evaluate variations in the systems performance an "information retrieval test” was designed and executed.
In the second part the different vendors, whose systems were included in the study, were to describe the systems from their viewpoints. The third part contains papers describing the users’ experiences. The fourth and last part shows how to use PDMS-data for scientific and therapeutic purposes including two papers on clinical expert systems. Thus, this book provides valuable information for clinicians and hospital managers who have to decide on the purchase of a Patient Data Management System.