PIA is a free open-source eResearch System for monitoring of incident events and provides a digital infrastructure for conducting population-based studies in any research field - at a study centre or at home. PIA focuses on repeated surveys. #DigitalEpidemiology #LongitudinalDataCollection #FOSS
The eResearch system has been developed since 2017 under the leadership of Dr. Stefanie Castell at the Helmholtz Institute for Infection Research (HZI). PIA was used for the first time in 2019 as part of an infection subcohort of the NAKO Gesundheitsstudie [www.nako.de] and has since been used continuously in various epidemiological and clinical projects [www.info-pia.de]. PIA can be used via mobile app (Android and iOS) or as a web version by study participants. PIA can handle various data input formats such as questions, barcodes, photos or pharma central numbers and allows questionnaires or interviews to appear once, at pre-specified cyclical intervals or based on specific conditions. In addition, biospecimens and various study management processes can be managed, e.g. symptom observation with signals, given certain conditions are met, or monitoring of contacts of cases with an infectious disease. PIA allows for individual configuration of studies or monitoring and management processes incl. self-collection of biosamples.
PIA employs Angular [https://angular.io] for its web application and the corresponding Ionic Framework [https://ionicframework.com] for the mobile counterpart, thus, facilitating component reusability across Android and iOS devices as well as web browsers. In the backend, PIA uses a microservice architecture utilizing Docker virtualization. The services are developed using the Hapi framework [https://hapi.dev/] and TypeORM [https://typeorm.io/]. Typescript is used as programming language. Automatization includes use of e.g. Sonarqube to check for code quality. Development is organized according to Scrum.
Being built for medical research, PIA focuses strongly on data protection and separation of research and identification data like names and addresses. For this, we use docker containers run on different virtual maschines.
PIA offers six user interfaces, which have different rights and tasks. The Study Administration can create new studies and manages all PIA users. The Consent Management administers the consents of participants. The Examination Team, i.e. study assistants, can register participants and conduct and document investigations / interviews. The Participant Mmanagement handles participants' contact information and can contact them via the system. The Research Team can customize study content such as questionnaires, consent and welcome texts, and view/export research data. The role of the participants is authorized to complete questionnaires in the app/web version, collect biospecimens, and view lab results in the app. PIA is used for documentation only, and therefore is not a medical product.