Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Disease

"We are always looking at ways to further improve patient care. Collecting information electronically makes tracking patient progress and care over time particularly simple. By automating the collection and scoring process, clinicians can quickly consult a patient's history, which will assist in identifying any changes since their last visit," – Dr Raj Sengupta, Consultant Rheumatologist, at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases

RNHRD Gives its Staff the Gift of Time Through Rollout of Secure Digital Questionnaire

Using the FileMaker Platform staff can track changes in patient condition and recommend courses of treatment with the tap of a button


  • Hospital needs to create digital questionnaires to replace original paper systems


  • Health Healthcare/Medical Services


  • A digital questionnaire that outpatients can complete on iPad in the waiting room


  • Automation, time saving and the ability to allow clinicians to spend more time treating patients
The biggest challenge for any hospital at any given time is providing patients with the highest possible level of care.

For RNHRD the Rheumatoid Arthritis Health Assessment Questionnaire is a crucial factor in achieving this standard of treatment. The results from this questionnaire allow the clinicians to make decisions on courses of treatment and track how a patient's condition has changed. Traditionally, the hospital had collected this data manually, through paper-based questionnaires, however, like most paper based solutions, this method was found to have several drawbacks.

First and foremost, appointment times for outpatients are limited to 15 minutes so any time saved is time that could be better used to treat the patient. Filling in the paper-based questionnaire in the surgery often takes up a fair proportion of this appointment time and you risk patients hurrying and filling in the form incorrectly.

Secondly, the fact that the patient's records existed on paper made it difficult for them to be applied to inform treatment decisions and chart patient progress. Having to trawl through a filing cabinet to piece together a patient's history every time they had an appointment made it awkward and time consuming to assess their condition and work out how to improve their quality of life. Managing this data was not the only issue with the paper-based system. Having reams of patient data stored on paper presented an obvious security risk as well.

Additionally, once this information was collated, it was not immediately clear to the naked eye how an individual's condition was progressing. The RNHRD needed a method that not only collected the data quickly, but allowed medical staff to access and apply it at the drop of a hat.

To date we've received positive feedback from patients, nurses and clinicians using this approach, and we will evaluate how this method of data collection could be potentially used in other clinics across the Trust.

— Dr Raj Sengupta, Consultant Rheumatologist

The FileMaker Solution

RNHRD was able to develop a digital questionnaire that outpatients can complete on iPad in the waiting room, one of the first practices in the country to adopt this approach.

Now, patients can complete a digitised assessment and record their data on iPad prior to their appointment. FileMaker's customisable database solution means that both the collection of data and the scoring process can now be automated rather than swallowing the time of hospital staff in a manual process, that can't be used as efficiently as digital records can.

Once a patient has completed the digital assessment, the data is then transferred through a secure wireless network, from the waiting room onto the clinician's desktop computer, ready for review immediately. Subsequently, results are scored and stored in the FileMaker database that is integrated with the Electronic Patient Record (EPR) system. Through this integration, records can be matched to patients with upcoming appointments, allowing the clinicians to determine which survey should be given to each individual.

With security a key concern for the RNHRD, it has ensured that no patient data will be stored on iPad and all records in the database are SSL encrypted to give the staff peace of mind when it comes to the safety of the patient data.

Notable Benefits

Patients now come into appointments having already completed their survey in the waiting room, freeing up the clinicians to spend this time providing treatment rather than collecting data.

Thanks to this data being immediately transferred from the iPad to the clinician’s PC, staff at the RNHRD no longer need to waste time rifling through paper records for the corresponding patient. Now, not only are the records available at the tap of a button, they can also be easily used to track patient progress. By putting the data into charts and graphs, medical staff can instantly see how a patient is progressing and recommend the appropriate course of action, rather than analysing the data in front of the patient.

The FileMaker Platform means that collection and scoring processes are now automated, allowing doctors to match the correct surveys to the right patients and immediately identify changes from the previous results that will be displayed on the screen. As a result, medical staff can now make informed prognoses based on having the correct information immediately at their fingertips.

Supplementing the time saved and the ease with which doctors can now apply and analyse patient data, the digitisation of the survey has increased its security. No data is stored on the iPads used by RNHRD, while all records in the database are SSL encrypted, securing it beyond any safeguards provided by a padlocked filing cabinet.

Following the successful implementation of the digital questionnaire at RNHRD, the next step is to spread this practice to other clinics and further questionnaires, even applying the data further to assess when the time is right to bring patients in for another check up.

Decent Group


Pure Offices
Kembrey Park

01793 250198


Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Disease