Table 3.

Selected Technical Issues to Consider When Developing an Electronic Data Collection System

PDA = personal digital assistant; SSL = Secure Sockets Layer; VPN = virtual private network; ASP = Active Server pages; PBRN = practice-based research network; LAN = local area network; WAN = wide-area network.
What hardware will you be using?Workstation or desktop computer in office
PDA supplied by the network
PDA supplied by the clinician
Pen-tablet computer
Web server for hosting data forms
    Does it have a security certificate to run SSL?
Web server for synchronization (does not have to be a separate server)
    Does it have a security certificate to run SSL?
Database server
    Application server (could be the database server or the Web server in a minimal configuration)
What software will you be using?Operating system for the Web server(s)
Web services software (IIS, Apache, others)
    SSL with certificates
Development software
    Visual Basic/C++
    Power Builder
    ColdFusion and others
    One of many PDA development systems
    One of many Web survey tools
    Third-party controls for specific activities
    One of several database systems
Network and workstation issuesWho has administrative rights to office workstations?
Who administers the fire wall for the PBRN and/or its service provider?
Who administers the fire wall for each practice in the network?
What types of networks and connectivity are in each practice?
    Dial-up modem
    Wireless within office
Personnel issuesWho will develop the data collection forms?
Who will manage the database, including security and fail-safe mechanisms?
Who will train practice staff and clinicians to use the system?
What level of support for the system is required?
    24 hours per day, 7 days per week
    8:00 am-5:00 pm Monday through Friday
    Less-intense support
Replacement issuesWho will pay to replace equipment as it ages?
    Central hardware and software
    Practice-level hardware