Development of the PDA Support Systems for Community Preventive Medicine Services
Field study is a fundamental research and service model in the public health. It requires mobility and information processing and management, which could be potentially fulfilled by the personal digital assistant (PDA). However, the applications of PDA in the public health still are not popular enough, compared with so many in medicines. The purposes of this study were to develop a package of PDA applications for the field services in the community preventive medicine and to examine the potentials of PDA in the public health. We used commercial development tools as well as Basic-like programming languages, NS Basic and VB, to specially make main applications: questionnaire maker and viewer, GIS, pocket book of the interviewees, a web site of information center for to support the off-line browse by PDA, and a conduit to backup data to the desktop Access database. Though we accomplished the design of functions required in this study, we found many practical difficulties which were highly related to the “user interface” issue. We also found that the real value of PDA comes from its ability of connecting to the backend information systems through synchronization. Due to its simplicity and affordability, the Palm-based PDA was recommended for the use in the Public Health. It is necessary to do further evaluation studies for better understanding and realizing the empirical values of PDA.