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The Issue of Collecting Data During Screenings

Since our founding in 2015, one of the biggest issues that we have faced is collecting and interfacing with patient data that we collect during our screenings. In this analysis, we will share some of the lessons we learned from trying various methods to collect data and see if we can figure out a solution that is simple, secure, and scalable. We will first identify our ideal features, what we need, and finally break down each method into its pros vs cons. From paper forms to Google Forms, let’s see if it’s even possible to find a solution that fits our needs and community.

What We Want

To begin, the first thing we did was to list out ALL the things we want from in regards to our Data Collection Method:

1. Safe & Secure

Our #1 absolute priority is for the data that we collect to be safe & secure. So having something like paper data forms lying around after the event because someone forgot to destroy them may pose a potential danger that we do not want to risk.

2. Simple & Seamless

3. Standardized & Searchable

4. Systematic & Scalable

5. Inexpensive

What We Do NOT Want

It's also important to state some things we do NOT want. For example, we want to look professional while collecting screenings to using our phones to collect data, while convenient, may leave a bad impression on patients/residents. Therefore...

  1. No Phones

  2. No Additional Work Outside of the Screening Event (unless absolutely necessary)

  3. No Complex Systems

What We Need

Now that we discussed what we want, it’s time to decide what we ABSOLUTELY NEED. Things like allowing patients to log in and search for their records on the internet are more of a luxury that an absolute must for our nonprofit. Therefore, here’s what would need:

  1. Safe & Secure

  2. Simple & Seamless

  3. Standardized, Systematic & Scalable

What We Can Use

In this section, we will break down all the possible methods we can use and compare their pros & cons.

Paper Spreadsheet




Not secure

Standardized, Systematic & Scalable

Need to transfer to computer

​Can be easily misplaced

Carbonless Copy Paper

When applying pressure to this paper while writing, you will be able to make a duplicate of the sheet and give it to the patient!




Not secure

Standardized, Systematic & Scalable

​Once scaled, can become expensive

Provide a copy to patients!

Need to transfer to computer

​Potential Health Hazard (BPA)

Offline G-Sheets

Utilize Google Sheets to collect data. Each student will first need to make a copy or tab of the template and use their computer to record data. After the event and returning online, volunteers will need to upload or turn back on "online" mode to merge changes. Then a research coordinator will need to copy and paste all the data



Safe & Secure

Need to make multiple copies of template

Fairly Simple

Requires merging of data afterward

Standardized, Systematic & Scalable

Template easily modified

Require setting to offline mode before going offline

Offline Open Data Collection Platform (ODK Collect)

Traditionally, our screenings consist of various stations (EKG, BP, BG, etc.) with patients moving from station to station done the line.

To utilize this Offline Data Collection Platform, we must fundamentally change how we do screenings from having patients move from station to station to having the equipment or screener move from station to station.

The reason? One health screener can only open one patient record form at a time and must stick with that patient throughout the whole process of screenings. Thus, our traditional "assembly-line" screening setup may not work as well.



Safe & Secure

Require downloading app onto computer

Relatively Simple & Seamless

Require downloading questions in advance

Standardized, Systematic & Scalable

​Requires some training

​Used by the WHO, Red Cross, and many global world health organizations


No Internet Connection Needed

​Directly fill in using a computer

Database automatically collects some data like location, date/time, etc

​​One-click online upload

Customized question types & answer choices.

What do you think is the best solution? Feel free to pick more than one!

  • Paper Spreadsheet

  • Carbonless Copy Paper

  • Offline G-Sheets

  • Offline Open Data Collection Platform

You can vote for more than one answer.

So what's the best solution?

Honestly...we don't really know. Although we've been in this industry for years, there seems to always be new and fresh software and products we discover every day that can help make our screening experience better. If you know of any or have any comments, please leave them below as we would love to hear from you! Hopefully, this post gave more insight into our data collection process, and hopefully one day we can find a solution that meets all our wants and needs!

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