Due to our vigilant adherence to privacy and security protocols, Ocean will not store or remember any long-term identifiable information about patients directly. It is intentionally designed to NOT be a replacement for your electronic medical record (EMR) and as a result, relies on your EMR for long-term storage.
However, the EMR isn't always capable of storing certain information in a workable, reusable format for clinical purposes. Specific eForm answers or prior submissions of Ocean forms don't always map well to EMR fields or necessarily re-uploaded when Ocean is used again for the same patient. For example, you may want to have Ocean only show a form once, or re-display prior answers from a patient when a form is shown a second time.
As a result, these fields are more easily tracked by Ocean itself, using Form Memory. Form Memory allows you to store the above described information from Ocean, without compromising patient privacy.
How It Works
To link prior answers to patients, Ocean uses a "one-directional cryptographic hashing" of static patient fields, like their health number and birth date. This hashing creates a unique pseudonym key that can be used to link prior answers for the same patient, without allowing anyone to identify the patient behind a given key.
Form Memory allows you to include variables such as "daysSinceLastCompleted" and "firstTime" in eForm scripting and tablet rules, in order to enable screening for chronic conditions, periodic clinic administration forms, longitudinal research studies, or (in a more complex situation) stateful "sessions" with patients using the "rememberTag" to maintain state.
To learn more about writing Tablet Rules with Form Memory, please refer to "Writing Tablet Rules Based on Form Memory".
Caveats for Using Form Memory
Form Memory is best used as a useful shortcut, rather than a persistent data storage repository for patient information. Form Memory cannot guarantee that a patient's information will always be available in the future. For example, if a patient changes their surname or their sex, their previous answers will no longer be accessible.
As a fail-safe, make sure your EMR has a free-text clinical note that captures the equivalent clinical information that you're storing using Form Memory. You can configure this by ensuring the eForms generate an appropriate note (along with tagged vitals if desired).
We stress again that for a number of medico-legal and technical reasons, your EMR must be the ultimate repository for a patient's clinical information. Please DO NOT RELY on Form Memory to store mission-critical health information.