FAQ: REDCap Data Import (REDDI): RPDR Assistant




Partners Research Computing, Enterprise Research Infrastructure & Services has developed a tool to allow users who have access to RPDR (Research Patient Data Registry) to more easily import that data into REDCap.

Below are answers to some Frequently Asked Questions. If you cannot find an answer to your question, contact edcsupport@partners.org.


What is the REDDI?

The REDCap Data Import (REDDI) service is a new initiative for Partners HealthCare, Enterprise Research Infrastructure & Services. REDDI refers to the infrastructure being built for importing data into REDCap. The goal is to streamline research data flow into REDCap from multiple data sources such as RPDR and EPIC.


What is the RPDR Data Import Assistant?

The RPDR Data Import Assistant is the first "wizard" to make use of the REDDI infrastructure. This first initiative is to help those accessing and querying RPDR (Research Patient Data Registry) for identifiable data to quickly and easily import selected data domains into REDCap projects. For more information about RPDR, please visit their website.


Why is the RPDR Data Import Assistant being developed?

There are a number of sources of EHR (Electronic Health Record) data, such as Epic, LMR, CRD, etc., which are consumed and then made available via export by RPDR. For research, clinical trials, quality assurance, and other purposes, it is useful and sometimes necessary to have EHR data within a REDCap project.

The current, rather manual process for importing RPDR data into REDCap is laborious and error-prone, requiring a certain level of expertise in the various systems, and therefore has not been adopted as much as desired. The Data Import Assistant is provided to lower this barrier to adoption.


Who can use the RPDR Data Import Assistant?

To use the Assistant, you need:

  • Access to RPDR data.

Your RPDR data files must be accessible to you (local or shared file directory) to browse and upload to the Data Import Assistant web page. More information about RPDR and how to request data

  • An API Authentication Token with API Export and API Import rights. 

An authentication token is specific to both a project and a user. For example, if you want to import data into multiple projects, you would need an authentication token for each project. Once granted User Rights for API Export and Import, you can request an API authentication token for your REDCap project(s) via the API application "Request API Token" feature.

  • Data Export rights for the "Full Data Set".

Since the RPDR Import Assistant will overwrite existing data for any records it imports, it is highly recommended that you first export/backup any existing REDCap project databank prior to the import. To ensure that what is backed up includes all the necessary data to simplify recovery, Full Data Set privileges are required.

You can skip the export step, for example if your project has no data, or the data has already been backed up outside of this Assistant. If the data is NOT backed up, however, REDCap Administrators cannot recover your data. You are responsible for obtaining the data copy.


What RPDR domains and data file formats are supported?

Currently, only the text-delimited data files exported by RPDR are supported. These are the text files to which you receive links via email after requesting the RPDR export. They are typically in the format of: username_someLongIdentifier_domainName.txt

For example, for user bg822 the data file associated with Demographic information might be: bg822_063015200833262487_Dem.txt

Each category, or 'domain', will have its own data file. Currently, the supported domains are:

  • Medical Record Numbers (ending with _Mrn.txt)
  • Demographics (ending with _Dem.txt)
  • Contact (ending with _Con.txt)
  • Providers (ending with _Prv.txt)


Are there plans to support additional RPDR domains?

The plan is to increase support of RPDR domains as the need arises. If you would like to see support for a particular domain, please contact edcsupport@partners.org.


What changes can I make to the RPDR data file prior to import?

The structure of the RPDR data file MUST NOT be changed. The file header and all columns must stay intact. You may, however, remove entire rows of data.

For example, you may have data associated with a particular MRN in your data file that you do not want imported into your REDCap project. In such a case, you may delete the entire row of data associated with that MRN.

Alternatively you could import the data into REDCap and then use REDCap to remove it, however most people find it is much easier to delete the data outside of REDCap prior to importing.

Most preferably, your initial RPDR query would have excluded unwanted records.


What is an EMPI and why is it important?

The EMPI (Enterprise Master Patient Index) is a unique identifier that is used to refer to a patient across the enterprise. While each Partners’ site, such as MGH, BWH, etc., have their own Medical Record Number for a given patient, that patient has only one, unique EMPI across all Partners’ sites.

Since RPDR gathers information from many sources, a single patient may have MRNs from multiple sites. When RPDR exports data, the record for a particular patient includes, in two separate fields, all of the MRNs and MRN sites associated with the patient. Managing these two fields can be burdensome.

In addition to the MRN information, each record exported by RPDR contains a single EMPI for the patient. The RPDR Data Assistant Tool relies on the EMPI to ensure uniqueness. The EMPI is therefore a required field in REDCap projects that use the RPDR Data Import Assistant.


Are there any requirements the REDCap project must meet in order for this tool to be used?

Yes. This tool transforms RPDR data into REDCap project data fields that are 'REDDI-enabled', that is, adheres to a certain format. This format is used by REDDI-enabled REDCap Project and Instrument (form) templates. These templates match well with the domain-specific data exported from RPDR, but have been massaged for ease of use based on our experience working with such forms.

It is recommended that you create a new project using one of the REDDI-enabled Project templates. You can either start with a base template, which includes only the Record Id instrument (the very first instrument in your project), and add other REDDI-enabled instruments to it. Or you may start with a "full" template that includes all REDDI-enabled instruments, and remove any fields or instruments that are not needed.

In either case, you may add or remove REDDI instruments and fields as desired. 


Why use REDDI-enabled REDCap Templates?

The RPDR Data Assistant, and potentially future tools, transforms data from the source encoding into a common format. Using the Demographics domain as an example, RPDR represents the values of Gender as "Male", "Female" and "Unknown". A different source, such as EPIC, may represent these differently.

When using this tool, the gender-specific data will be transformed into the REDDI-enabled, common encoding more appropriate to REDCap forms and fields; in this particular case, into radio button values of '1, Female', '2, Male', '998, Unknown', and '999, Other'.

By using REDDI-enabled instruments and fields, the tool knows how to map RPDR data into your REDCap project.