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MIT project uses personal digital assistants to track TB data
Date:2/11/2009

" he says.

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.

With the new system, health care workers enter all of the lab data into their handheld devices, using medical software designed for this purpose. When the workers return to their office, they sync up the PDAs with their computers.

"The doctors get what they want, the administrators get what they want, and the team only has to enter the data once," says Blaya.

The new system dramatically dropped the average time to record results to eight days, and eliminated the few cases where results went missing for several weeks or months. "You can really prevent patients from falling through the cracks," says Blaya.

Getting timely and accurate lab results "is essential to determine if a patient is responding to treatment and, if not, to alert physicians to the possible need for medication changes," the researchers wrote.

Peruvian health care workers enthusiastically embraced the program, which started in two of Lima's districts and has now been expanded to all five. In addition to saving time, the handheld devices are also more cost-effective than the paper-based system, the researchers reported recently in the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.


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Contact: Jennifer Hirsch
jfhirsch@mit.edu
617-253-1682
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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