Comparison of manual versus automated data collection method for an evidence-based nursing practice study

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Article Summary


There is some debate between the efficiency and accuracy of data collection when utilizing computer systems and programs. Prior to the evolution of data collection, healthcare personnel would record values and levels using pen and paper; with the widespread use of technological systems, now more and more groups are using computers that automatically sense and record values. This research article focused on the differences in collection of pulse oximetry data in patients following orthopedic joint replacement surgery.


The control of this study was the prior method of collection, manual transcription, compared to computer based “automated data collection.” [1] The method in which the control data was collected was by transcribing handwritten paper forms of patient information into a computerized spreadsheet; while the experimental data was “extracted…from the electronic health record.” [1] These experimental data were then stored in a database using structured query language (SQL).


The results of this research found that human error in manual transcription accounted for more variance than did the computerized collection, specifically in regards to identifying eligible patients and calculating mathematical data. The study also found that using the inclusion-exclusion criteria, manual entry failed to identify almost half of the patients that were eligible for the study. One area of superiority of manual transcription over automatic was that manual transcriptions were more detailed in the description of procedures than were automatic collection.


Following this study, the authors concluded that despite initial costs of incorporating automation in data collection, the system will reduce costs related to employees' manual inputting data (Reduced Documentation Time). It was also concluded that utilizing these systems supports consistency between patients and with each data collection.

Article Review

The field of perioperative nursing is a critical field that requires immediate nursing assessment and reaction as well as anticipatory critical thinking to mitigate patient issues; with that in mind, automation of data recording, storage, and ability to compare and analyze is an excellent resource to be utilized. A very prominent cause of mistakes in data recording is simply human error, whether that be due to mistyping, miscalculation, or simply inaccurate assessment. Automation can be used to minimize these mistakes in the field of nursing. While automation is not a 100% accurate method of data collection it is very useful and should be used in conjunction with clinician critical thinking. With increasing advances in technology it is likely there will be more studies to evaluate automation in the healthcare industry, and how to better provide appropriate patient care.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Byrne, M. D., Jordan, T. R., & Welle, T. (2013). Comparison of manual versus automated data collection method for an evidence-based nursing practice study. Applied Clinical Informatics, 4(1), 61-74.

Similar Study

Weber, B. A., H. Yarandi, et al. (2005). "A comparison study: paper-based versus web-based data collection and management." Applied Nursing Research 18(3): 182-185.

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