Palm Computer Demonstrates a Fast and Accurate Means of Burn Data Collection

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Abstract

Manual biomedical data collection and entry of the data into a personal computer is time-consuming and can be prone to errors. The purpose of this study was to compare data entry into a hand-held computer versus hand written data followed by entry of the data into a personal computer. A Palm (3Com Palm IIIx, Santa, Clara, Calif) computer with a custom menu-driven program was used for the entry and retrieval of burn-related variables. These variables were also used to create an identical sheet that was filled in by hand. Identical data were retrieved twice from 110 charts 48 hours apart and then used to create an Excel (Microsoft, Redmond, Wash) spreadsheet. One time data were recorded by the Palm entry method, and the other time the data were handwritten. The method of retrieval was alternated between the Palm system and handwritten system every 10 charts. The total time required to log data and to generate an Excel spreadsheet was recorded and used as a study endpoint. The total time for the Palm method of data collection and downloading to a personal computer was 23% faster than hand recording with the personal computer entry method (P < 0.05), and 58% fewer errors were generated with the Palm method.) The Palm is a faster and more accurate means of data collection than a handwritten technique. (J Burn Care Rehabil 2000;21:559-61)

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