Embarking on a project requires great amounts of time and planning. Professionals want to be able to capture data from their target audience quickly and accurately, employing techniques and mechanisms that promoteHandheld device data capture the greatest amount of engagement.

Fortunately, there are myriads of technologies available to use for hosting questionnaires and surveys to collect data from. Consequently, having a huge range of technologies to choose from can result in information overload, simply put, how do you know which device is best for your project?

DCC have worked within the boundaries of health and public sector for over a decade and are well aware of types of projects that commonly require device considerations. We aim to make life easier for you by assessing the pros and cons of data capture devices.

Tablets

Tablet devices came into prominence in the early 21st century with the Apple iPad becoming the first commercially successful tablet. Organisations such as Samsung and Dell have since followed suite. Regardless of brand, all tablets have the same biological structure. Input is via a touch screen interface, coming in sizes between 7 and 10 inches, including a camera and various applications, both inbuilt and downloadable for work and recreational purposes.

Tablets are an excellent choice for mobile data collection, provided there is a reliable internet connection, though tablets can be bought with an inbuilt 3G connection. Security issues are prevalent on tablets, however, they can be locked down therefore only be used for a specific purpose with no access to other functionality. Additionally, tablets are easy to operate but are prone to being stolen and are very fragile, if dropped, therefore it would be wise to invest in sturdy cases.

Previously, tablets have been utilised in patient experience projects for those patients who are not mobile. Volunteers visited the bedside of patients and assisted them in completing the questionnaire, which proved to be a success for the hospital.

Kiosks

Kiosks have been around for a very long time, being used as an information portal and for inputting information, therefore perfect for hosting surveys and questionnaires. They operate exactly like desktop computers but are smaller and for public use requiring a great amount of physical and technical security. Unlike, tablets, they are strong and sturdy and arguable easier to use for input, but not portable, though you are able to invest in portable kiosks, much like kiosk on wheels.

Kiosks are usually a safe bet but it is important to consider the environment they’ll be placed in. Be sure to assess internet connectively and place kiosks in areas that permits greatest engagement from your target audience.

Digital Pens

A digital pen works the same as an usual pen; however, attached is a camera which captures the handwriting of the user as the form is completed, before sending the data to a desired registry or database. The camera will take 100 pictures of pen strokes per second. On completion of the form there are two options: If the user is mobile the data is transmitted to their smartphone via Bluetooth or, if available placed on a docking station to be transferred to a laptop. One of the main advantages a digital pen has over tablets and kiosks is that an internet connection is not required immediately. If no connection is available the form will remain on the pen until a reliable connection is established.

Digital pens are ideal for mobile workers, such as nurses doing ward rounds and carers on home visits who are completing various forms. However, digital pens are prone to being lost and stolen and can have a huge price tag.

Conclusion

It is important to encompass all factors into consideration when choosing a device: environment, cost, training implications, internet connection, usability, reliability and so forth. In the past healthcare organisations have jumped on a bandwagon and invested thousands of monies into a piece of technology only to later realise the impracticality. Additionally, it is not necessary to invest in the latest technology, only the technology that best suits your project. Furthermore, do not disregard the value of paper and online forms on laptops and desktops as they are a useful and easy method to employ, especially in times of recessions and budgetary constraints.

Moreover, experience tells us that usually employing a single technological kit is not enough. Patients and the general public come from a wide background with different capabilities and limitations, therefore to cater to the different types of end users, it is likely a multitude of options will have to be implemented to give them a wide offering and increase engagement.

Choosing the right technology is time consuming and resource intensive so why not just ask us! Our free educational knowledge share workshop will enlighten on the different sorts of technology applicable to your project. We are not affiliated with any particular manufacturer; therefore our guidance is non-biased, clear and concise.

Book a free workshop to also learn about data extraction, questionnaire design and how actionable data is formed.

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