A Finger-Ink form is organised like a sandwich, with different layers:
- On the top we have the Welcome screen. This greets your patients and introduces the coming form.
- In the middle we have Sections (within them: Screens; and within screens: Fields).
- On the bottom we have the Summary & Signatures. The summary is used for final terms or instructions on the form.
This article will focus only on the middle of the sandwich.
Sections, screens and fields
Sections don't really do anything by themselves — they just provide groups for screens which, in turn, provide groups for fields. The fields are where the magic is.
Consider this screenshot from a basic consent form:
It shows the first section with the title "Identity", with one screen inside. That screen has a prompt of "Please enter your name.", with four fields inside (all related to the name). Each of those fields have a type and a prompt. The prompt is the blue text you can see on the left, and the type is
Here's what that screen looks like in the Finger-Ink iPad app — showing the section title, screen prompt (and sub-prompt), and four fields with their prompts:
Why do we even need fields?
A form is a collection of questions and answers. A lot of forms have a simple question / answer format, e.g.:
> What is your name?
> What is your address?
42 Tawa Street, Mount Maunganui, 3116, New Zealand
While this format is the easiest to answer, it's difficult for a computer to do something with parts of those answers.
In the example above, it's really easy for a computer to understand the full name, but difficult for the computer to figure out the last name, especially when names can vary so much, e.g.:
Ralph Vaughan Williams (last name is both the last 2 words)
Bob Richard Dylan (last name is only the last word)
Keith Jones Senior (last name is only the middle word)
It's for that reason that we separate the bits of information that we may want to do something with (e.g. send to a specific field in Cliniko, or highlight in some other way) into fields, e.g.:
> What is your name?
First name: Brendan
Last name: Kilfoil
By identifying smaller parts of the information as being certain fields, we can then process them with complete confidence.
Why screens instead of questions?
While a question is always presented as a screen (with one or more fields), a screen is not always a question. Why?
Screens can be comprised of text only, without posing a question. In the example below, we have a screen with a prompt of "A screen of information". Only one field is present on this screen — it's a "Display-only text" field, and has some text in the editor, as seen below:
Here's what that screen looks like in the Finger-Ink iPad app:
See? No question at all. Just some text and a next button!