Tuesday, February 17, 2009

PDAs and Handhelds Used for Medical Research Projects in Peru

In this article the use of handheld PDAs on a medical research project in Peru is detailed. The handhedl PDAs provided the following benefits:

  • reduced delays
  • reduced errors
  • reduced workload
  • reduced the time it took to process medical data by 15 days
  • prevented lost data
  • patients could be monitored in a more timely manner
Here are the details of the study and the use of the handheld PDAs as was detailed in this article in the article at ITExaminer.com Patients with drug resistant tuberculosis undergo a two year regime of powerful antibiotics, including injections six days a week during the first six months, with monthly testing. The test results dictate the course of treatment. The half-month delay in getting information from the outback to the city medical facility disrupted the treatment plan.

Here is a description, as described in this article in the Hindu News, of the patient record process before the use of handheld PDAs -

Under the old patient tracking system, a team of four healthcare workers would visit more than 100 health care centers and labs twice a week to record patient test results on paper sheets. A couple of times a week, they returned to their main office to transcribe those results onto two sets of forms per patient — one for the doctors and one for the health care administrators.

From start to finish, that process took an average of more than three weeks per patient. In some extreme cases, results were temporarily misplaced and could take up to three months to be recorded. There was also greater potential for error because information was copied by hand so many times.

Collecting of data in the field and synchronizing the data to a centralized database application for immediate storage and analysis reduces the need to manually retype all of the information and eliminates time delays that may cause treatment problems. Re-typing data from paper forms introduces more errors in the data and increases the workload for clinicians, so avoiding those issues by using handheld pdas for data collection and synchronization was found to have many benefits.

Additional news articles on the use of handheld PDAs in remote locations in healthcare can be found here.