South African Family Practice

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Tablet computers for recording tuberculosis data at a community health centre in King Sabata Dalindyebo Local Municipality, Eastern Cape: a proof of concept report

D O'Mahony, G Wright


Background: Data at primary healthcare (PHC) clinics are handwritten in registers by nurses for submission to the District Health Information System (DHIS). Compared to pen and paper, data capture, using handheld computers, has fewer errors, is more efficient and is readily accepted by users. This study describes the process of developing a tablet computer programme to capture data, and explores nurses’ experiences of using tablets at a community health centre.
Method: OpenDataKit® was used to design XForms for touchscreen entry. Data for tuberculosis screening were captured by nurses on Android® 9.7-inch tablets over a week. Their experience was explored by means of a focus group interview.
Results: Data were recorded for 24 patients and seamlessly transferred for analysis. Nurses thought that the tablets were easy to use and saved time. They would be happy to use tablets in preference to pen and paper. They  expressed a desire to extend the use of tablets to other areas of their work.
Conclusion: Tablet computers were readily accepted by the nurses. They are a feasible alternative to pen and paper for recording data at point of care. This tablet-based system could be used to transfer PHC data directly to the DHIS.

Keywords: analysis, clinic data, computers, Eastern Cape, primary health care, tablet, tuberculosis data
AJOL African Journals Online