In many countries or regions the capacity of health care resources is below the needs of the population and new approaches for health surveillance are needed. Innovative projects, utilizing wireless communication technology, contribute to reliable methods for field-work data collection and reporting to databases. The objective was to describe a new version of a wireless IT-support system for field-work data collection and administration. The system requirements were drawn from the design objective and translated to system functions. The system architecture was based on field-work experiences and administrative requirements. The Smartphone devices were HTC Touch Diamond2s, while the system was based on a platform with Microsoft .NET components, and a SQL Server 2005 with Microsoft Windows Server 2003 operating system. The user interfaces were based on .NET programming, and Microsoft Windows Mobile operating system. A synchronization module enabled download of field data to the database, via a General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) to a Local Area Network (LAN) interface. The field-workers considered the here-described applications user-friendly and almost self-instructing. The office administrators considered that the back-office interface facilitated retrieval of health reports and invoice distribution. The current IT-support system facilitates short lead times from field-work data registration to analysis, and is suitable for various applications. The advantages of wireless technology, and paper-free data administration need to be increasingly emphasized in development programs, in order to facilitate reliable and transparent use of limited resources.
developing countries; global health; handheld computers; information storage and retrieval methods; international organizations