Friday, February 29, 2008

Handheld PDA Research Tools in the Emergency Department

MobileDataforce is working on many mobile healthcare related projects these days. One of our customers forwarded the following article to me yesterday. It shows objective data on the value and benefit of using handheld mobile devices for data collection.

Prospective, randomized evaluation of a personal digital assistant-based research tool in the emergency department

BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2008, 8:3doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-3

18 January 2008
Abstract (provisional)

Personal digital assistants (PDA) offer putative advantages over paper for collecting research data. However, there are no data prospectively comparing PDA and paper in the emergency department. The aim of this study was to prospectively compare the performance of PDA and paper enrollment instruments with respect to time required and errors generated.

We randomized consecutive patients enrolled in an ongoing prospective study to having their data recorded either on a PDA or a paper data collection instrument. For each method, we recorded the total time required for enrollment, and the time required for manual transcription (paper) onto a computer database. We compared data error rates by examining missing data, nonsensical data, and errors made during the transcription of paper forms. Statistical comparisons were performed by Kruskal-Wallis and Poisson regression analyses for time and errors, respectively.

We enrolled 68 patients (37 PDA, 31 paper). Two of 31 paper forms were not available for analysis. Total data gathering times, inclusive of transcription, were significantly less for PDA (6:13 min per patient) compared to paper (9:12 min per patient; p<0.001). color="#006600">Conclusions
Using a PDA-based data collection instrument for clinical research reduces the time required for data gathering and significantly improves data integrity.

Marcel P.J.M. Dijkers Ph.D. FACRM
Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine
Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Clinical Research Projects and Mobile Handheld PDA Solutions

This article discusses the use of mobile handheld PDA solutions (Palm Treos) in a clinical research environment.

Company Overview:
Craig Hospital is a non-profit spinal cord and brain trauma rehabilitation and research hospital. Based in Denver Colorado, Craig Hospital has been treating brain and spinal cord trauma patients since 1956 and has treated over 25,500 patients.

Research Challenge:
Craig Hospital recently received a government grant to perform research on 8 different forms of rehabilitation in order to understand what techniques are most effective for each of the 8 disciplines. Craig Hospital teamed up with 5 other research hospitals (Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Shepherd Center, Mount Sinai, Carolinas Rehabilitation, and the National Rehabilitation Hospital) in order to make the findings representative of spinal cord injury rehabilitation practices nationwide. The data needed to be collected and sent to a main database at an outside location to be analyzed. ISIS/ICOR (International Severity Information Services/Institute for Clinical Outcomes Research) was the organization selected to perform the data analysis and to maintain the database to which all collected information was to be sent. The problem was that the hospitals and patients were all in different geographic locations, and the patient care happened in a mobile working environment which made the collection and secure synchronization of the research data to a central database a challenge.

MobileDataforce Solution:
MobileDataforce created a mobile handheld application for each of the 8 different types of rehabilitation. Each healthcare provider was issued a handheld HP iPAQ HX 2190 PDA running Microsoft’s Windows Mobile operating system and asked to record rehabilitation progress with each of their patients in the study. There were approximately 250 mobile devices across the 6 hospitals.

By using a mobile software application rather than using paper forms Craig Hospital was able to:

  • Save data entry time
  • Save the costs of shipping and storing paper forms
  • Ensure data accuracy through the use of data validation features
  • Pre-load patients’ names and information onto the mobile device to save time and ensure accuracy
  • Speed up research and analysis by downloading data directly from the handheld devices to the central research database

By selecting MobileDataforce’s PointSync Mobility Platform and professional services, Craig Hospital obtained a complete enterprise mobility platform and an experienced mobile software development team. MobileDataforce developed 8 mobile clinical research software applications that allowed for the 6 hospitals to capture information quickly, in real time, from all across the United States and synchronized it into one central research database. This allowed for research and analysis to be conducted on the data in near-real time.

MobileDataforce implemented software security features to ensure patient privacy and compliance to industry rules. MobileDataforce also helped Craig Hospital select the appropriate mobile handheld devices for their data collection requirements.

Craig hospital was able to collect research data on 8 different rehabilitation disciplines from 6 different hospitals across the country and synchronize the data into one centralized database using the PointSync Mobility Platform from MobileDataforce, Craig Hospital saved time and ensured data accuracy by designing a custom mobile application for clinical research with the help of MobileDataforce. MobileDataforce assists organizations around the world mobilize business and field data collection processes. For additional information please visit our website at:

You can find more information on these studies here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

MobileDataforce's Office and International Visitors

In the past few months MobileDataforce has attracted some very interesting customers and visitors from all around the globe to look at our mobile software for handhelds and PDAs. Last week in our office we hosted Mayor Dave Bieter of Boise, and just this morning we had a visitor from the French government. A few months ago we hosted visitors from the UK , the Netherlands and the Idaho State Board of Pharmacy.

MobileDataforce has also been interviewed by Fortune magazine, Forbes magazine, Inc. magazine and VAR in the past 4 weeks. Many of these interviews focused on quality of life and fast growing high tech companies in the inter-mountain region of the USA.

Our office is right on the Boise river and it is a very attractive destination for fisherman, mountain bikers and skiers. If you are a fishing fan - this Idaho Fishing Guide is a great place to learn about fishing in and around Idaho.

MobileDataforce and IBM's Maximo for Mobile Handheld PDAs

MobileDataforce has recently completed a mobile software development project that integrates the PointSync Mobility Platform with IBM's Maximo application. This project was developed by MobileDataforce and implemented in both Australia and New Zealand. Our customer is a very large engineering and construction firm that works throughout the Asia/Pacific region and needs field services dispatch, work orders and asset tracking on mobile handheld PDAs.

The software application is a mobile work order management application.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Global Warming & Mobile Handheld PDAs

MobileDataforce is seeing more and greater effects from global warming and energy issues on our business. In our case, the effects are positive for our business. We have a growing reputation as a preferred provider of mobile solutions for large services companies that work on utility and government contracts. My mobility experts in our professional services organization can quickly and cost effectively deliver just about any custom mobile software application that is required by utilities and government agencies. Here are some examples of current projects we are working on that are related to global warming and energy issues:
  • Energy efficiency inspection and service ticket applications for utilities
  • Water efficiency inspection applications and service ticket applications
  • Disaster & Damage inspection and repair estimate applications
  • Public housing inspections in the Benelux
  • Housing Inspections in the UK
  • Canyon County Building Inspection application

Many of these projects are motivated by the need to conserve energy. In the case of both the mobile energy efficiency and water efficiency applications the purpose is to reduce the use of these two scarce resources.

The building applications and housing inspection applications are focused on compliance with government regulations. These include energy efficiency levels and environmentally sound practices.

We are asked more and more to help with inspection applications that can be used to quickly estimate damage from storms and bad weather.

Our customers are generally the company that is contracted to provide these services. Since these projects are often won through a competitive bid process, each service company is seeking ways to be more efficient so they can provide more services for less and keep a satisfactory profit margin.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Chain of Custody Applications & Mobile Handheld PDAs

MobileDataforce is currently working on a very important mobile software project for implementation in Africa using mobile handheld PDAs. It involves the transportation and delivery of AIDs medicine and other critical healthcare tests and materials. The project enables the organization to track and validate that the medicine that is intended for a specific location actually arrives at that location. In one of the most recent mobility projects we delivered - the transportation of the medicine required a total of 8 signatures to be captured at the various supply depots along the way. These signatures were from the individuals accountable for verifying the correct medicine, in the correct amounts had arrived and been forwarded.

The organizations responsible for transporting and delivering the medicine is looking at standard consumer grade PDA phones using Microsoft's Windows Mobile OS. They will wirelessly sync the chain-of-custody information back to a database in North America for accountability and auditing.

Mobile Software Applications for Handheld PDAs in Africa

Who would have thought it? MobileDataforce is working on a long list of very large mobile software application projects in Africa. In my original business plan for MobileDataforce, I must admit that the continent of African did not play a significant role in my 5 year plan.

Much of our work in Africa revolves around developing mobile software for PDAs on government projects, water delivery, medicine delivery, logistics and inspections. A lot of these projects originate in Europe or North America but extend to Africa.
The mobile software application industry is certainly very exciting and ever changing. It is fasinating how new opportunities pop-up in unexpected industries and geographies on nearly a daily basis.

This is Not the Way to Mobilize Work Orders for Handheld PDAs

I was in Starbuck's on friday. I must confess this is not out of the ordinary for fridays, nor any other day, but I witnessed an event that was. Two service technicians were sitting at a table reading a work order on their mobile phone screen. This phone had about a 1" x 1" screen. They squinted at the screen and then filled our a paper work order on a clipboard. This is certainly one way of mobilize field service technicians, but I would recommend some better ways, and different mobile handheld PDAs or smartphones.

  1. Provide a service technician with a full work order on a mobile device that has a big enough screeen to read. I can still see both service technicians squinting at their tiny screens over their mochas.

  2. Don't make them rewrite the work order. Use a mobile work order software application on the handheld mobile device. Let them read the service ticket, fill it out, and sign the screen.

  3. Don't use a paper work order. Wirelessly send new and completed work orders back and forth wirelessly. There is no need for paper.

  4. Track inventory on the mobile work order application so inventory levels are automatically deducted when parts are used.

  5. Let service technicians view their schedules on the mobile device.

  6. Let service technicians view the status of ordered parts on the mobile device

  7. Track time on various projects using the mobile device. Compare actual time with estimated time.

  8. Complete job estimates on the handheld mobile devices and wirelessly send back to the office

  9. Dispatch new work orders directly to the mobile handheld device

There are many more reasons to mobilize field service operations. MobileDataforce has been helping companies mobilize their businesses since 2000 and deploying powerful work order software applications for use on mobile handheld PDAs.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Managing Remote Locations & Franchises with Handheld PDAs

One of my marketing team members, Matt Jantz, has been working with a number of franchise companies that are interested in mobile handheld PDA solutions. He compiled the following list of reasons why a company with franchises or remote locations may want to mobilize their business processes.

  1. Streamline business process with immediate data transference from handheld devices to main office

  2. Save money, administration costs and time by going paperless

  3. Ensure business processes are being carried out correctly by franchisees and their employees

  4. Protect franchise name and reputation by ensuring processes are being completed to franchise standards

  5. Improve time and cost efficiencies by eliminating data interpretation and entry into home database

  6. Improve customer service by providing customers with prompt billing and service information

  7. Receive payment for service faster by getting payment on site (mobile credit card processing and or using mobile printers) or sending customer invoices and billing faster

  8. Ensure that employees are recording necessary customer and job information correctly on site with the use of data integrity features: data will not be sent to home office until required fields are complete

  9. Track sales at every location to ensure the franchising company gets their agreed upon percentage of sales from franchisees

  10. Ensure delivery and receipt of equipment and supplies by tracking them from origin to final destination

  11. Use handheld devices for onsite reference and training to help new associates learn the process and maintain the franchise reputation

  12. Allow field technicians to locate parts necessary for given jobs, retrieve pricing information, and provide accurate repair estimates

  13. Gain a technological competitive advantage over competition, which can be leveraged to smite competition and retain franchisees

MobileDataforce has delivered many world class mobile solutions for companies that have franchise models.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Handheld PDAs - More than Data Collection Devices

When some people think about replacing paper forms with handheld PDAs or smartphones - they are only thinking about collecting data and sending it wirelessly back to the office. However, simply collecting, storing and moving data would be a missuse of a powerful handheld PDA or rugged handheld. A computer should compute. By that I mean - a handheld computer should analyze the data collected and take action based upon the data. Here is an example:

Your house is on fire. You can take out a handheld PDA and enter data that says, "my house is on fire," and store it as the house collaspes around you, or you can program your handheld PDA to automatically call 911, turn on the sprinklers, call your work to report you will be in late, order new carpets and cancel the evening poker game, and provide a damage estimate.

OK - so that is a silly example but the point is a handheld computer can analyze the data you enter, and be programmed to take action. Handheld computers should do the following:

  • Allow you to enter information/data

  • Store it

  • Synchronize it with a distant software application

  • Take action based upon the information

  • Alert people or other computers about the data

  • Analyze the data and make predictions

  • Activate other computer programs to take action

  • Decrease inventory numbers

  • Close work orders

  • Enter a new customer order

  • Replace inventory with a new order

  • Track packages

  • Call your customers

  • Reschedule an appointment

  • Estimate the closest service technician

  • Predict the fastest route to drive

  • Analyze the accuracy of job estimates

  • Conduct time tracking

  • Copy and send the data to multiple destination

  • Perform mathmatical computations and take action based upon the result

  • Activate mechanical equipment to take action based upon the information

  • Turn on and off electronics

All of these actions can be programmed to take place based upon the data you enter into a handheld computer. At MobileDataforce we work with customers on these kinds of issues daily.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Growing a Business Using Mobile Handheld PDAs

One of the major reasons small service companies call MobileDataforce is to investigate our mobile field service solutions for use on mobile handheld PDAs and smartphones and to try to understand how they can grow their business without adding additional administration resources and costs. This is the age old problem of how do you grow beyond the capabilities of the immediate owner/manager. The answer is to automate the business processes that are related to field services.
  1. Use wireless dispatching of service orders

  2. Synchronize completed service orders directly to the office accounting system

  3. Accept digital signatures on service orders completed in the field

  4. Use a mobile printer to print completed work orders

  5. Use time tracking on the handheld computer to monitor the time spent on each job

  6. Track inventory used on the handheld computer and have this information synchronized to the office so all parts and equipment usage is tracked

  7. Include a customer survey on the handheld device and associate the survey with each work order

  8. The handheld computer can remind the service technician to upsell warranties, maintenance programs and new upgraded equipment sales