Objectives A customised data management system was required for a rapidly implemented COVID-19-adapted colorectal cancer pathway in order to mitigate the risks of delayed and missed diagnoses during the pandemic. We assessed its performance and robustness.

Methods A system was developed using Microsoft Excel (2007) to retain the spreadsheets’ intuitiveness of direct data entry. Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) was used to construct a user-friendly interface to enhance efficiency of data entry and segregate the data for operational tasks.

Results Large data segregation was possible using VBA macros. Data validation and conditional formatting minimised data entry errors. Computation by the COUNT function facilitated live data monitoring.

Conclusion It is possible to rapidly implement a makeshift database system with clinicians’ regular input. Large-volume data management using a spreadsheet system is possible with appropriate data definition and VBA-programmed data segregation. The described concept is applicable to any data management system construction requiring speed and flexibility in a resource-limited situation.


This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.

Cite as

Miller, J., Gunn, F., Dunlop, M., Din, F. & Maeda, Y. 2021, 'Development of a customised data management system for a COVID-19-adapted colorectal cancer pathway', BMJ Health & Care Informatics, 28(1), article no: e100307. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjhci-2020-100307

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Last updated: 29 June 2023
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