Form Builder Best Practices: Better Forms, Better Reports

Great reports depend on great data. Selecting the right Form Controls will help you to collect the data you need to build your reports. This is the opposite of The Garbage In, Garbage Out Principle.

Plan Your Way to Better Reports

  1. Plan which data you want to collect

  2. Plan how you want to aggregate and organize the data you collect from multiple records.

  3. Plan which field labels, and form controls, are needed to collect and then organize your data.

  4. Keep your end-users in mind.

  5. Build a form to collect your data.

  6. Build a report to aggregate and organize the data you collect.

  7. Test your forms and reports before sharing them with your staff.

Report Friendly Fields

Example: You want to identify the substance of choice for each patient and you know you will want to create a list of patients according to substance.

Not Ideal: Text Box Controls are not ideal for reporting, because form users can enter any word, set of words, or spelling they want. It is hard to aggregate and organize data from Text Box Controls.

Use Caution: Dropdown Controls give standard answers, but also allow users to enter their own free-text answers. Disabling free text will help you when it comes to reporting.

 Best Practice: List Box Controls give standard answers that the form user must choose from. Create a list box with specific options, like alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, etc.

Calculation Friendly Fields.

Many Form Controls use text values, so if you are interested in making calculations based on a field, be sure that you collect numeric values.

Example: You want to collect the number of times a patient has used in the past 30 days and you know that you will want to calculate the average number over the course of 12 months.

Not Ideal: List Boxes with numbers checked off.

Use Caution: Dropdowns with numbers (text values). You will need to use a conversion formula in Report Builder to convert from string (text) data to numeric.

 Best Practice: Text Boxes with numeric validation. Calculate away!

Easy to Find Fields

Include the Tab, Field, and Description in your Report Field Labels. This makes it easier to locate the field in case there are multiple fields with the same name. 

Example: You are building an assessment, with three tabs: Social, Family, and Educational. Each tab has the same four fields: Strengths Score, Abilities Score, Needs Score, Preferences Score. You know that you want a report with all 12 scores.

Not Ideal: Use no Report Field Label. On the report source, you’ll see 3 of each score, and you won’t know which is for Social, Family, or Educational.

Use Caution: Enter a Report Field Label like Family Strength.

 Best Practice: Enter a Report Field Label like FamilyStrengthScore.

Fields that Auto-Fill

Avoid asking users to complete fields you could calculate with the information they’ve already provided. Using a data source or data formula to populate the field avoids data entry errors and makes life easier for your end-users.

Example: You have four fields: Client Age, County of Residence, Patient Group, Qualified for Entitlements Referral. You know that all minors living in Jefferson County qualify for the Entitlements Referral if they are in the Family Needs Patient Group.

 Best Practice: Use the answers from the first three fields as the criteria to automatically populate the answer to the fourth question. In the Entitlements dropdown, you will use a data formula.

More About Forms and Reports

Getting Started With Form Builder

Using Form Builder - Intro and Practice

Managing Form Builder Settings

Form Building: Top Ten Tips

Getting Started with Report Builder