An illustration used to depict the concept of preparing to import data from an historical source into the SHOEBOX Data Management portal

Tips for Preparing to Import Data Into the SHOEBOX Portal

Hearing Conservation

No matter what type of technology you purchase for your organization, very frequently, there’s a milestone on the path to going live that always trips you up. In many cases, it is dealing with data. Often this is the process of gathering corporate data of some type and organizing it into a structured format for the purpose of loading it into your new software tool. Sounds simple and straightforward? It should be, but often is a task that slows down the onboarding process, or worse, causes significant delays.

At SHOEBOX, we have a similar requirement. For some customers, this step can be challenging. The intent of this article is to provide some early guidance to make the process of working with your data easier and to help ensure that loading the data into the SHOEBOX data management portal is successful.

First and foremost, let’s identify what items must be included to ensure completeness in your data set. At a high level, you will need to ensure you have all appropriate employee/patient/participant information. This includes relevant demographic details (first name, last name, gender, birth date, hire date, etc.) and any current and historical audiogram information with appropriate baseline identifiers. Please take a look at our article entitled Template Explanations for a list of recommended fields and their respective explanations.

Pay special attention to two key fields – ExternalID (often our customers use the Employee ID number) and TestGUID (likely an alphanumeric code representing a single unique audiogram in your historical data). Both must be unique values across your organization, meaning each site that will be in the scope of your hearing testing program. This is true both for initial deployment as well as in the future. There can be occasions where these values, in particular the TestGUID, could be duplicated, especially if you’ve been working with another vendor or service provider, and each site or location was set up individually. The other possibility is that you may have acquired another business (or have been acquired by a larger entity) where the Employee ID may be duplicated across companies. Regardless of the case, you must adjust the data to guarantee uniqueness for both values.

To begin organizing your data, you should start by identifying all sources of data. Start with any vendors or service providers you’re currently working with. Request a complete extract of that data to go along with a current list of the subjects (patients/employees/participants). If you are testing in an occupational health setting, you will need an up to date record of active participating employees from your HR system. It is extremely important to ensure all data is provided in a structured electronic format, meaning it must be in a spreadsheet of some type (.xls, .csv, etc.). These are the only file formats that the SHOEBOX Data Management Portal can accept. You can download a template to help organize your data from the article referenced above. Here’s an example of one

SHOEBOX offers each customer a free consultation session to provide guidance on best practices, strategies to organize your data, and answer questions you have about the process. It is important to note that we are very cautious about individual PHI (Protected Health Information), so please, do not email data to us at any time. If and when we need to work directly with your data, we will provide you with a secure data transfer link. We will also require that you complete and submit an authorization form giving approval for appropriate SHOEBOX team members to see and work with your data. This form must be signed and provided to us before we agree to work with your data. As a Medical Device company subject to HIPAA (US), PIPEDA (Canada), GDPR (Europe) regulations and ISO standards, it is critical to adhere to this policy.

With respect to the data consult, SHOEBOX will also ask you to complete an information gathering form.  We use this to gather enough initial information in order to have a focused conversation on the next steps and save time by not having to go through these questions on the phone. Information to be provided on the form includes:

  • a high level description of your intended testing plan;
  • if you need to divide employees/patients into different groups (we call these ‘projects’);
  • data formats (.xls, .csv, etc.);
  • unique identifier for each subject to be tested;
  • if your data has baselines marked in current/historical audiogram information;
  • and other more general information about your organization.

We’ve presented some key details to help you get started on the right path to audiometric data import. There are some other factors to keep in mind and I’ll go into more detail here.  It’s never too early to start working on your data, even if you are still in pre-sale discussions with your SHOEBOX Account Manager. The sooner you can get your data uploaded to your SHOEBOX Customer Portal, the faster you’ll move through onboarding and be ready to start actual testing. Further to this, having your data in your portal prior to going through SHOEBOX training will assist with seeing how your data looks in your environment. It will make much more sense and you’ll progress faster to going live with testing. It is essential to know that large amounts of data (typically larger organizations will fit this profile) will take much longer to prepare and load into the system. Additionally, should you opt-in for Audiological Services, our experts will require that your data is in your system prior to engaging with you. Again, this will help progress you through all stages of the onboarding process as quickly as possible.

The above information was designed to get you started and answer the usual initial questions that surface. Additional details can be found in our Knowledge Base at the links at the end of this post. Remember that SHOEBOX is here to help you through the process, so should you need to talk to one of our Data Import experts, please request a consultation through your Account Manager or Customer Success Manager.


SHOEBOX Data Import Quick Guide

Importing Data