Data Fidelity

Case Study – In-home Carer App

Data Fidelity was approached to build a private app, developed for in-house carers. Web Development Newcastle

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Ted*, a private client, had reached out to the broader IT community with development for an in-home carer app, developed for their team of in-home carers, caring for his quadriplegic son. Ted’s son had been Quadriplegic for twenty years – Carers managed & reported on his eating & drinking schedule, as well as monitoring sleeping habits, paint, medications, activities and moods. Twenty years ago, when carers were first contracted, all reports were managed solely on pen & paper shift reports. It did mean that any time Ted wanted to analyse any shift data pertaining to any potential shifting trends with medications, eating habits or moods, there was a monotonous process involving checking historical hard-copy data, creating an additional , hardcopy or excel graph, chart or report to check for trends. As time went on, and the historical data grew, it became far too inefficient to wade through literally thousands of shift reports to check for any data. Data Fidelity was contracted to build a simple mobile app, with the following goals:

1) Translate the old, hardcopy shift reports into a native mobile app including all fields, converting data into 2NF based on provided sample data hardcopies
2) Mitigate, or eliminate (if possible) ongoing fees such as hosting, subscriptions, or licences.
3) Create an administration-level portal, to allow management of devices which the app was installed on

4) Reporting function to automatically generate graphs or charts from a user input, such as graph between two user-specified dates, including nested views and shortcuts to the specific results displayed within graphs 5) Manage additional functions not originally planned, such as automated timesheet functions 6) Data export to external data sets used for managing in-home carers, such as Deputy for wages & leave management.


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The first step with delivering the project, was to create a draft Database Schema, which was a direct translation of old hardcopy data into a new schema model. We explained to the client in great detail, about what a database is, the steps taken with building a database, and best practice when designing one. The biggest change moving from a hardcopy paper report to an SQL-based data system, was defining the types of data that will be used, as well as constraints, data types and reports that can be generated from a finalised data set. While hardcopy reports have been around for many years, ultimately the hardcopy paper has no definition to what sort of information can be written down other than verbal instructions; Such as explaining to only write what sort of information can be written on a particular position on a page; whereas a database can be built with Data Validation which will only record data, if it meets a specific criteria. Data Fidelity refined translating the data from hardcopy to SQL, by conversing with Ted, and finding out exactly what sort of information he wanted to be able to pull from the data, and how he wanted to view it. We were able to identify a few ways of reporting on the data, such as by displaying data between two user defined dates, but also displaying a default date range for a reporting page, defaulting to display the previous 30 days of data, unless specified. As well as this, previous hardcopy paper reports were completed in a ‘shift report’ style, including all information recorded by carers during their specified shift. Ted wanted a displayed ‘shift report’ which included everything entered during the specific shift. This meant creating a function which would automatically input a default value in a field, specific to the last entry for a dataset relating to shift data; such as carer name, shift start time and shift end time. As for the medium in which to build the app, Ted had requested that we either reduce or eliminate the ‘key man’ risk, meaning that should he require changes to be made in the future, that either himself or another database administrator is able to quickly and easily read and understand the schema, to make changes if required in the future. Originally, we were going to build the system using Microsoft SQL Server, and host on Google Cloud, accessible via a mobile web app packaged in a .apk file. Upon further consultation, the licencing cost of using a cloud-based SQL server was too great for Ted, as well as this he was unsure how to navigate Google Cloud, and half his staffers used iOS, which cannot read .apk files natively. We opted to build the system using Appsheet, a Firebase system which uses Google Sheets as a backend for an app which can be deployed to both Android & iOS via email link. AppSheet was able to greatly reduce the monthly cost to almost nothing, and Ted has previous experience using Microsoft Excel for managing staffing & bookkeeping; He was able to pick up Google Sheets almost immediately. He was confident should he need to change the database in the future, he was able to do so by adding, updating or deleting columns in Google Sheets. For Web Development Newcastle

When the database design was completed, we were ale to present a completed, functioning DAPP (Database-App) built using AppSheet. The DAPP included the following functions:

  • Frontend shift dashboard; displaying all data that has been recorded for the current shift
  • Sidebar menu, with subcategories for reports including examples such as Bowel movements, food & drink intake, Bolus, Aches & pains, activities, moods, medications, sleep or splints.
  • Reports menu tabs located at the bottom of the screen, with nested report menus for all reportable categories.
  • Report dashboard as per every category, automatically displaying the most recent entries for the shift, the frequency of entries per category over the last 30 days
  • Nested reports based on hyperlinks within report dashboards, displaying graphical data based on every individual point of data for every category, all defaulting to 30 days; Such as a FoodType Sandwich, and frequency of Sandwiches over the past 30 days, or MedicationType Panadol, dosage & frequency over the past 30 days.
  • Shortcut link to generate customised reports for every point of graphical data, allowing the user to generate reports based on custom-input DateRange.

The above allowed all of Ted’s sons carers to check in to a shift via a mobile app, record all events, sign off on a shift and record individual points of data which could then be extensively searched and reported on, to deliver the fundamental goal of looking for potential trends in Events or activities throughout his son’s daily activities with his carers.

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Ted was pleased with the resulting app, as it was able to deliver everything required.

However, there was another hurdle which was not anticipated on, which was with a highly malleable and customizable app which recorded and reported on all data 24/7, navigation of the system became complicated.

As an entirely custom data system specific to his needs, the scope included every conceivable way to report on data – The end result was a highly complicated, difficult to navigate DAPP.

After this was realised, Data Fidelity had tackled this issue by creating unique user roles, which had varying levels of permissions, and creating visibility rules for specific buttons, links or reports.

This allowed Ted and his general manager to view and report, but to view and report exclusively; Carers were able to view general report data, but were able to simply begin recording shift information, and input data, and were not able to view or generate customizable reports. This allowed for them to minimize time spent during the shift trying to figure out the app to spend more time caring for his son, and it also cleared a lot of ‘fuzz’ for Ted, when he is wanting to view and generate reports looking for positive or negative trends with his son’s activities.
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Built to be unique, and easy to navigate.

As the app was used solely as a data collection and reporting tool, there was no need for the app to be appealing to a broader community – it was not going to be a profit generating app, it was, at its core, a productivity tool; a utility to allow carers to provide the most accurate information when it came to the care of Ted’s son, and allow Ted and his manager to view and analyse data to check for progress with his son’s health.

This translation from hardcopy paper reports to a digital form is commonly called a Digital Transformation; a transition from hardcopy to softcopy data, and utilising the productivity, sustainability and security that can come with digital data as opposed to hardcopy data.

AppSheet is a powerful tool to use, when someone needs an app to process data; Not so much a tool for a highly marketed digital asset, but a series of datasets that an individual or organisation that wants to improve their data efficiencies.

Using the power of Google Sheets, amalgamated with AppSheets NoSQL framework, Data Fidelity was able to complete the app as a powerful, standalone app compatible with both Android & iOS devices, building the app in a way that allowed for it to be expanded upon in the future, in a way which did not require a skilled database administrator or web developer; and could be expanded upon with basic fields, via a Google spreadsheet. Simple!
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Is your business requiring an app like Teds? Contact Us today!  Newcastle Web Design
Is your business requiring an app like Teds? Contact Us today!  today!Newcastle Web Design
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