Solutions

Leading health research laboratory saves time and money with publication tools powered by FileMaker Pro

Health Communication Research Laboratory (HCRL)

Gathering the latest information on healthy living is just the beginning for researchers in the field of public health. Once that information is in hand, it needs to be made available, not just to other researchers but also to the public. That's the mission of the Health Communication Research Laboratory (HCRL) at Saint Louis University—finding new and effective approaches to presenting health information. And it's where FileMaker Pro, the award–winning database software application from FileMaker, Inc, powers new publication tools.

Overview

  • Health communication research laboratory specializes in developing and delivering highly personalized health information
  • Based in St. Louis, MO
  • About 50 employees

Industry

  • Higher Education

Solutions

  • Content tailoring applicationAutomated publication system
  • Cross–platform solution

Benefits

  • Facilitates personalization of health data
  • Enabled employees to do complex tasks in a very easy way, saving time and money
  • Eliminated need for complex page layout or graphics tools
  • Reduced need for project staffers

FileMaker Pro allows us to do complex tasks in a very easy way, saving us both time and money.

— Eric Wheetley, Senior Systems Analyst, Health Communication Research Laboratory, School of Public Health, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO

Business Challenge

The HCRL Center of Excellence at Saint Louis University, specializes in developing and delivering highly customized health information. "We don't publish generic flyers and pamphlets," stresses Senior Systems Analyst Eric Wheetley. "We gather personal information from different individuals, via health surveys, and use that information to create and present very specific health messages tailored to the unique needs of each individual participant."

The HCRL delivers customized publications on demand, and it's a challenge that used to require a complex interrelation of software applications, which could be both expensive and difficult to manage. But now, all the necessary data processing, page layout, and graphics work is being done in one place by a powerful system of FileMaker Pro databases.

Successful Solution

The cornerstone of the system—the "Tailoring Engine" Application—is designed to customize health information to the specific needs and interests of different individuals. "This tool allows us to draw upon user–specific data to select particular health messages for a magazine, a newsletter, or other publication," explains Eric, "thereby tailoring the content of that publication to the exact needs, interests, and circumstances of the person requesting it."

The HCRL team has developed tools and applications used by a wide range of academic institutions, health agencies, and non–profit groups nationwide. "For example, for one client we developed a series of children's storybooks based on information gathered through a health survey taken by parents and stored in FileMaker Pro," Eric continues. "Our tailoring engine was able to take this data and use it to generate individually customized books for each child in the program."

It's allowed us to consolidate all of our projects into single applications, with a learning curve that's much easier to master than what we were doing before. FileMaker Pro allows us to do complex tasks in a very easy way, saving us both time and money.

— Eric Wheetley, Senior Systems Analyst, Health Communication Research Laboratory, School of Public Health, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO

Another application uses FileMaker Pro powered interactive computer kiosks to reach underserved populations in community settings. "The kiosks resemble a video game," Eric says. "You use a touch–screen to answer a series of survey questions, and the tailoring engine uses your answers to create a short magazine geared towards your specific health concerns. The kiosk then prints out the publication and it comes out a slot in the front of the kiosk. It was all done in FileMaker Pro, all in one place."

"Some of our systems are running over 100 individual databases, with an estimated 100,000 records overall. It's growing all the time," Eric declares.

Customer Benefits

The publication work is generated entirely in FileMaker Pro, eliminating the need for complex page layout or graphics tools, along with the need for project staffers to know how to use these often–intimidating software applications. "It's allowed us to consolidate all of our projects into single applications," Eric says, "with a learning curve that's much easier to master than what we were doing before. FileMaker Pro allows us to do complex tasks in a very easy way, saving us both time and money."

Flexibility is also a plus. "FileMaker Pro's cross–platform capabilities are a huge plus for us," Eric notes. "Most of our work is done in Mac OS X, but we also have machines running Windows 2000, and many of our clients use Windows. It's important that our software be able to work in a wide range of environments."

The HCRL team is constantly developing new approaches to meet the challenge of creating and delivering health information that is timely, accurate, and highly customized. Wherever their explorations take them, Eric is confident that FileMaker Pro will remain a vital part of their work. "FileMaker Pro allows us to do a lot more things in flexible and creative ways," he declares. "And because of that, we can do a lot more with less!"

For FileMaker:

Kevin Mallon
Public Relations Manager
FileMaker Inc.
408-987-7227
kevin_mallon@filemaker.com
http://www.filemaker.com