A well-designed PDA-based system to collect data from institutions over a large, resource-poor area can significantly reduce delays, errors, and person-hours spent processing data.
We conducted a cluster randomized controlled trial in 93 health establishments in Peru. Baseline data were collected for 19 months. Districts (n=4) were then randomly assigned to intervention (PDA) or control (paper) groups, and further data were collected for 6 months. Comparisons were made between intervention and control districts and within-districts before and after the introduction of the intervention.
To evaluate the effectiveness of a personal digital assistant (PDA)-based system for collecting tuberculosis test results and to compare this new system to the previous paper-based system. The PDA- and paper-based systems were evaluated based on processing times, frequency of errors, and number of work-hours expended by data collectors.
The PDA-based system had a significant effect on processing times (p90 days was reduced from 9.2% to 0.1% and the number of errors was decreased by 57.1%. The intervention reduced the work-hours necessary to process results by 70% and was preferred by all users.
Blaya JA, Cohen T, Rodríguez P, Kim J, Fraser HS. (2009). Personal digital assistants to collect tuberculosis bacteriology data in Peru reduce delays, errors, and workload, and are acceptable to users: cluster randomized controlled trial. International journal of infectious diseases : IJID : official publication of the International Society for Infectious Diseases, 13(3)