The form fields that are selected for each question will determine the quality of a form and the quality of the data you collect in your EHR software. It’s important that you understand each of the different field types to make sure you’re selecting the one that works best for your purposes.
Most electronic forms have required fields. And there’s a good reason for that. Required fields can help to ensure the integrity of the data you’re collecting.
How do I know if a field should be required?
The best way to determine if a field should be required is to consider how it will affect your data collection and reporting if it is not completed.
If you won’t be able to complete a quality analysis with multiple blank answers in the field in question, then you should make those fields required.
If you will still be able to complete a quality analysis with multiple blank answers to the field, consider whether you actually need it. You want to strive to make your form as compact as possible for efficiency purposes and to avoid collecting and working with data you don’t need.
What about non-required fields?
Free text and narrative based questions make good optional fields because the responses typically don’t contribute a lot to data analyses. The answers to these questions are usually used as a notation reference because they aren’t consistent.
You’ll want to make certain form fields required – you will just need to determine what fields make the most sense to be required based upon the data you want to collect.
To learn more about applying required fields download the eBook Principles of Data Collection, and begin optimizing your form creation and data collection process.