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strifus

Building a database

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I was having a chat with a friend today, shes a Medical Officer (Anaesthetist), and she was asking me about the possibility of building a database (what she needs for work and such) for an iPad (or some form of tablet) and/or iPhone. I was wondering if it was possible to build a database to her specifications. I have been programming for years and I certainly dont have any experience in mobile computing as it is today with tablets and smartphones. If it is possible, how would you go about it? What would you need? Are there currently apps out there that could fit the bill for her instead of someone buidling a database from the ground up?

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One thing you'll need to consider is the amount of data and where she'll need/use it. If it's small amounts, you could just store in on the device itself. If it's large amounts of data, I'd recommend making a web-app with a standard DB like mySQL or postgresql running behind it. That way she can access it via the built in browser, and you only need to make the interface compliant.

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Depending on your skill/knowledge level.. I'd suggest building yourself a test Linux box, and install MySQL and Apache.

Then use PHP to do your queries.

That way the information in the DB can be accessed via multiple platforms.

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There are lots of medical type applications available, although many are expensive or poorly built (need more work to make maintainable and fix security and other problems).

 

For this type of system I would suggest a web application designed to work on tablet devices, a number of points that you really really must get right with these types of applications:

  • Security is paramount if any patient data is involved then everything MUST be under SSL. Preferably with strong access controls and encryption of any patient identifiable data.
  • Use a good database, PostgreSQL or if you really must MySQL with InnoDB (do NOT use MyISAM).
  • Daily backups that are stored offsite (and encrypted), for this reason do not store data on the device.
  • Do not make available on the internet, keep it on local network only, or available via VPN.
  • Django or Rails would be a suitable candidates for this type of application. Database applications can be built quickly and have good support for migrating data as your data model changes over time, an important consideration with this kind of data.
To make the application more responsive AJAX requests make sense (provided you are comfortable with JavaScript/DOM application development) interacting with RESTful web services. Utilising web services also would allow for a native application in the future if this is required.

 

Hope that helps.

Edited by SledgY

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Thank you all for the information that you have given me. In truth, I dont exactly know what she wants in this thing. We were having a discussion about the possibility of having/creating a database on a tablet or phone (apple of course) but we never discussed what kind of information. Like I said earlier, I have been out of the coding field for at least several years and right now I dont know anything about coding for mobile computing, not that itll take me long to learn. I understand the security implicatoins of such software and I made her aware of that from the beginning. However, we didnt touch on what she wanted in the database, just that she wanted one.

 

I guess ill start looking up the apps that are available currently for the iPad/Phone to see whats available and then let her know her options.

 

I do agree with your statement that there is a need for these guys to keep records of their patients, not particularly about the patient themselves, rather like a log of their cases and what they did similar to a surgical report. Most times, you see these guys lugging around big diaries (usually the registrars (specialists in training) so that they can keep track of all the patients that they see. As I pointed out, the database my collegue wants, might be something like that but until I speak to her again (shes on holiday) I cant really say what she wants.

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In truth, I dont exactly know what she wants in this thing. We were having a discussion about the possibility of having/creating a database on a tablet or phone (apple of course) but we never discussed what kind of information.

*There's* your problem ;)

Until you can nail down what she wants you are really just shooting the breeze and you'll never know if she just wants an app/webserver that access a remote DB, or fully integrated onto a device.

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Ok, also check database solutions by <Enteros link removed>, building a database from scratch sucks. I got used to ready solutions, Enteros offers quite good ones.

 

 

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