Portability: the next frontier in electronic data capture?

Recently, the company Clinical Ink announced their upcoming software release.  Using tablet PCs with proprietary software, they will allow EDC to take place on digital tablets “that retain the look and feel of traditional paper data collection forms.”  This sounds familiar, as we’ve been working on the same thing with our CRF templates to load form metadata into OpenClinica.

Also recently, George Laszlo blogged about the Nextrials Prism system, as seen through the Apple iPhone.   Boston-based PHT is porting their patient diary software to the Samsung Ultra Mobile PC.

Of course, the common thread here is portability.  Everyone wants their electronic data capture app to work in real-time, where the doctor is, where the patient is.  Which is, in effect, changing the game for applications in terms of user interface and the ability to run in a portable environment.

The thing about portability is that it’s not just a closed-sourced game; Apple is releasing their SDK for developers to work on their own apps for the iPhone.  Google is in the process of hyping their Android project together with the Open Handset Alliance, which is an open and free mobile platform.

In short, OpenClinica has several options for becoming a portable competitor to the above; since it runs in Java, its “write once run anywhere” architecture allows it to run on different OSes.  Since it runs through a web browser, users can already set it up to run through a handheld PC running a web browser.  In the future, the challenge to OpenClinica will be to evaluate the open SDKs and determine if there’s room to create a slimmed-down interface suitable for the smaller screens and simpler interfaces of the portable workforce.

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