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Mobile information and communication technologies (MICTs) are widely promoted as increasing the efficiency of work practices in healthcare. There are a number of different types of mobile computing devices available, however, that provide users with differing potential capabilities and these may be used in a wide range of different work settings with varying characteristics. Mobile computers are intimately related with moves towards nomadic computing but can equally be seen as a way of achieving ubiquitous computing. As these devices are incapable of autonomous and intelligent movement, however, their mobility remains dependent on their "carrier"-user. This places an emphasis on the human-computer interface as the benefits from the use of MICTs, is likely to depend on the appropriate matching of device characteristics and work settings. From a socio-technical perspective, however, device characteristics may be context dependent, so it is important to focus on the device "at hand", that is in the process of use. The analysis of case studies detailing the use of different MICT devices by doctors in different hospital settings indicates that while some MICT devices are viewed as helpful tools for work; others prove problematic as their characteristics in practice diverge from technical expectations. We therefore advance two concepts, "mobility in practice" and "MICT at hand", to serve as ways to move beyond looking at mobile computers just in terms of their technical specification towards a view of entities-in-use, which, we suggest, offers a more productive perspective for both academics and practitioners.
Date of Conference: 19-22 June 2007