For field teams, time is precious. Every second that an enumerator or research assistant saves during data recording means more time to spend providing help to the community, giving better care to a patient or making efficiency improvements to fieldwork.
Some of the work that field teams do while collecting data may seem repetitive or require of thinking time – like calculating the age of a patient or going through a child growth chart to see if the child has malnutrition. If only those formulas could be done automatically within a form.
The answer that common pain point lies in using an automated calculation. In this article, we will look into what they are and how you can use them to power-up your fieldwork.
What are automated calculations?
Calculations are mathematical and logical operations that use variables within a form. They have the ability of turning your mobile questionnaires into a powerful program.
When it comes to using automatic calculations, the sky’s the limit. At Teamscope we have implemented a full range of mathematical (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division), logical (equals, not equals, and, or, greater than, less than, etc.). These operators can be nested together, similar to how you would build a formula on Excel.
The Teamscope app re-evaluates each time a user enters or changes a value on a form. Since calculations work by default offline, your team can use them to gain rich insights anywhere, anytime.
Everyday use cases for calculations
1. Medical scores
Medical scores are used in healthcare to support clinical decision-making, predict the outcome of a patient and diagnose diseases accurately. There are thousands of medical calculations in existence, across all specialities.
Medical scores may be used by clinicians on-the-fly, with mobile apps such as MedCalc or Medscape, or they can also be implemented on data recording solutions, such as Teamscope, to not only obtain a medical score but to build a database with that information for further analysis.
An algorithm is a sequence of steps and decisions needed to perform a process. The visual representation of an algorithm is a flowchart.
An algorithm can be converted into a mobile form as a way to help your field team make decisions or follow an established process.
By using branching logic, you may show specific fields depending on the values that your enumerators enter or options they choose.
An example of an algorithm that has been by researchers on Teamscope is the Algorithm for Managing Childhood Illness Using Mobile Technology (ALMANACH).
3. Lookup tables
Lookup tables save us time when retrieving information by using key-value pairs. When you enter a value (e.g. height) the table uses it as a key and retrieves the values pointing to that key (e.g. ideal weight).
Lookup tables can be programmed into a mobile form and be powerful when diagnosing child malnutrition or checking the appropriate dosage of a medication.
How to use calculations on Teamscope
At the moment, the coding of automated calculations is only possible by the customer support team at Teamscope. Our team has a vast experience of implementing complex algorithms and formulas within your user’s forms. Since formulas can vary in complexity, our team has first to evaluate what kind of algorithm you need to use and provide you with a quotation of what the extra cost of that custom work will be. In some cases, this may be done for free. Don’t hesitate to enquire our team for further details.
Automated calculations are a way to turn a simple mobile form into a powerful productivity tool. Calculations make use of the values that your field team enters on your form to do complex equations, show or hide fields and display custom messages.
Medical scores, algorithms and lookup tables are common use cases for automated calculations in mobile forms. Particularly in clinical research and humanitarian projects, calculations can support field teams while doing the collection and give project managers more valuable insights during data analysis. Instead of having to code a formula on Excel or SPSS, that formula can be directly on the form and available offline, ready to be used anywhere, anytime.
If you are planning to do data collection and wish to power-up your forms with automated fields, you may signup for free Teamscope account and reach out to our support team (email@example.com) for help on using calculations on your mobile questionnaires.