The collection of examination data for large clinical studies is often done with proprietary systems, which are accompanied by several disadvantages such as high cost and low flexibility. With the use of open-source tools, these disadvantages can be overcome and thereby improve data collection as well as data quality. Here we exemplary use the data collection process of the Hamburg City Health Study (HCHS), carried out at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE). We evaluated how the recording of the examination data can be converted from an established, proprietary electronic healthcare record (EHR) system to the free-to-use Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) software.
For this purpose, a technical conversion of the EHR system is described first. Metafiles derived from the EHR system were used for REDCap electronic case report form (eCRF) building. The REDCap system was tested by HCHS study assistants via completion of self-developed tasks mimicking their everyday study life. Usability was quantitatively evaluated via the IBM Computer System Usability Questionnaire (CSUQ) and qualitatively assessed with a semi-structured interview.
With the IBM CSUQ, the study assistants rated the usage of the basic REDCap system for HCHS examination data collection with an overall score of 4.39, which represents a medium acceptance. The interview feedback was used to formulate user stories to subsequently increase the administrative sovereignty and to conceptualize a REDCap HCHS information technology (IT) infrastructure.
Our work aims to serve as a template for evaluating the feasibility of a conversion from a proprietary to a free-to-use data collection tool for large clinical studies such as the HCHS. REDCap has great potential, but extensions and an integration to the current IT infrastructure are required.