The PATH Systems Coordinator position was initially created to simply complete the 8 year old PATH project that seemed to be stalled because of difficulties implementing outdated technology. Old portable computers had been purchased years before my arrival and the method of merging and transmitting information to and from the mobile and permanent sites was still unknown.
With only 25% of the entire project complete and an 8 year old incomplete project plan, I quickly realized that this was more than simply completing the project. Documentation had to be created, a plan to interface the 64 mobile and permanent sites needed to be written, new technology needed to be injected into the project and personnel needed to be reassigned to different task within the project.
The first order of business was to write a plan to merge and transmit data to and from the clinics. Several obstacles had to be overcome with this plan:
It had to be very user friendly. Most clinics had little or no computer experience or training.
It had to be secure.
It had to be low cost. Funds where starting to become tighter with the length of time taken to implement the project.
It had to have centralized control from the state level. With the inadequate computer knowledge and experience at the clinics, data needed to be maintained at the state level.
The plan first implemented $1500.00 laptops rather than the outdated portables at $4500.00 each. You don't need to be a mathematician to calculate the savings there. Secondly, using an off the shelf communications package, the clinics would upload and retrieve data only twice a day. All the data manipulation, merging and repairs were done at the state. Thirdly, we designed a simple menu to choose these functions. Almost everything, except the data entry itself, was automated. Fourthly, I included training while installing a clinic.
After only 18 months, the remaining 75% of the project was complete.
Of course, this is a simplified version of what took place over those 18 months but it does give you an idea of what was accomplished. The PATH project has had many changes since the completion of the project. If you would like to know more, please click on the PATH project throughout this page and others.
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