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Stud Health Technol Inform. 2010;160(Pt 1):525-9.

Leapfrogging paper-based records using handheld technology: experience from Western Kenya.

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  • 1Regenstrief Institute, Inc., Indianapolis, IN, USA.



There is limited experience with broad-based use of handheld technologies for clinical care during home visits in sub-Saharan Africa.


We describe the design, development, implementation, and evaluation of a PDA/GPS-based system currently used during home visits in Western Kenya.


The system, built on Pendragon Forms, was used to create electronic health records for over 40,000 individuals over a three-month period. Of these, 1900 represented cases where the individual had never received care for the identified condition in an established care facility. On a five-point scale, and compared to paper-and-pen systems, end-users felt that the handheld system was faster (4.4±0.9), easier to use (4.5±0.8), and produced higher quality data (4.7±0.7). Projected over three years to cover two million people, use of the handheld technologies would cost about $0.15 per person--compared to $0.21 per individual encounter entered manually into a computer from a paper form.


A PDA/GPS system has been successfully and broadly implemented to support clinical care during home-based visits in a resource-limited setting.

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