This article reviews the capabilities, advantages, and disadvantages of three forms of automated data collection - scannable data forms, Web-based forms, and handheld computers - compared with the current standard of data entry by hand on paper forms. Each of these methods is reviewed with respect to ease of use, experience required of designer, end-user training requirements, costs, flexibility, speed, accuracy/error rate, potential for data loss, need for technical support, and equipment and/or software requirements. A discussion of their appropriate application to various kinds of studies is included, followed by examples of research studies using each of these methods.
- data collection
- handheld computers
- medical informatics applications