Frequently Asked Questions

About

What is MyCap?

MyCap is a participant-facing mobile application (on iOS and Android) used for data collection and the automated administration of active tasks (activities performed by participants using mobile device sensors). All data collected in the MyCap app are automatically sent back to the REDCap server as soon as internet connection is available (i.e., it can also be used for offline participant data collection). 

MyCap is a no-code solution for research teams conducting longitudinally-designed projects or projects with frequent participant contact. MyCap also facilitates participant engagement and retention by providing quick access to project staff and two-way communications (e.g., messaging and announcements) within the App.  

MyCap is available on any iOS device (iOS v11.0+) and any Android device (Android v8.0+). 

For more information about MyCap, check out the MyCap website, publication, resources, and a list of MyCap use cases

What happens if I run into a problem collecting data using MyCap outside of normal business hours (e.g., at 2 AM)? 

Email your REDCap administrator (enter your institution to find your administrator here) and the MyCap inbox mycap@vumc.org. Please describe the problem, include screenshots if possible, and include any errors or warnings you’re seeing. 

How is MyCap Different from REDCap Mobile? 

MyCap is an application installed on a participant’s mobile device so the participants can complete data collection instruments, surveys, and other tasks remotely and over a period of time. 

Alternatively, the REDCap Mobile App is primarily used when an internet connection is unavailable or unstable. The REDCap Mobile App is typically downloaded to the study team’s mobile device and taken to the participants – it is not downloaded to a participant’s device. 

How do I describe MyCap to my Institutional Review Board (IRB)? 

Please follow local IRB processes and policies if a project requires approval by the Institutional Review Board (IRB). The use of MyCap to capture participant data should be explained in the IRB application. The language below may be helpful.  

MyCap is a freely available participant-facing mobile application that can be installed on iOS and Android devices to capture patient-reported outcomes for any REDCap project. All data completed on a participant’s device are automatically and immediately synchronized to REDCap. If data are completed while participants are offline, data are synchronized when internet connect is restored and the App is opened. These are the additional security features of MyCap: 

  • Participant data is stored locally on the device in an AES-256+SHA2 encrypted database. Data remains on the device if an internet connection is not available. Applies to both iOS and Android devices.  
  • When an internet connection is available, data is transmitted directly to REDCap using an SSL (TLS v1.2) connection. A hash-based message authentication code (HMAC) is used to verify the integrity of the data and to authenticate the sender.  
  • Participant entered data (i.e., task responses) are not stored or sent anywhere else. Data exists on the participant’s device or on the server. 
  • Data is wiped from the device after the Mycap App verifies that data has been successfully transmitted. Note that there is an optional MyCap feature that lets a participant see some of the data s/he has entered for an individual task/instrument/survey. By default, data is wiped.  
  • Participants create a 6-digit PIN that is used to open the App. A participant can disable the PIN feature. 

Getting Started

How do I get started with MyCap? 

  1. Check with your REDCap Administrator to see if your institution has REDCap v13.0 installed or the MyCap External Module is installed. If not, MyCap is not available for your project. 
  1. If MyCap is available at your institution, set up a classic/traditional project in REDCap and design your data collection instruments (MyCap cannot be enabled on projects using longitudinal data collection with defined events. MyCap uses REDCap’s infinitely repeating instruments to store longitudinal data). 
  1. Request to enable MyCap on your project. 
  1. Configuring MyCap Tasks & Schedules, the App Design, and Participant Lists using the REDCap interface (if using REDCap v13.0+) or the External Module. 

Who can create projects compatible with MyCap? 

It depends on your institutional setup. Some institutions require a REDCap administrator enable MyCap, whereas other institutions allow REDCap Users to enable MyCap on their project. 

Can I enable MyCap on an existing project? 

Yes. MyCap can be enabled a new or existing REDCap projects, as long as it is not enabled for longitudinal data collection with defined events.. MyCap uses REDCap’s “repeatable instruments” feature to store longitudinal data. 

What versions of iOS and Android are compatible with MyCap? 

iOS versions ≥ 11.0 and Android versions ≥ 8.0. 

Notifications 

When do push notifications go out and can I change it? 

There are two types of notifications for mobile apps, local notifications and push notifications. A local notification is scheduled by the device and will be seen when a participant is online or offline. A push notification is sent from a server to the device and can only be received when a participant is online. Push notifications sent when a participant is offline will be saved until the participant is online. 

MyCap uses local notifications for scheduling tasks. Participants will receive a local notification at 8AM with the message “You have an activity to complete today.” Currently the 8AM notification time cannot be changed, but adding flexibility is very high on our list of priorities. 

MyCap uses push notification when a researcher sends an ad hoc message to a single participant or an announcement to all participants. These can be sent anytime but they cannot be scheduled to send at a scheduled time in the future. 

Can I schedule notifications regarding tasks or overdue tasks? 

No. MyCap cannot yet send reminder notifications for incomplete tasks. MyCap currently sends notifications for tasks at 8 AM on the day the task is schedule to occur. 

Messaging

Can I message participants via the MyCap app? 

Yes, MyCap provides in-app messaging between REDCap users and participants. When messages are sent to a participant, they receive a push notification on their device saying, “You have a secure message waiting” (assuming the participant allows MyCap to deliver push notifications). The participant may read the message after opening the Mycap App. If the participant does not allow push notifications, he or she will still be able to read the message but will not see the notice indicating a new message is available. 

Additionally, project-wide Announcements can be used to send a message to all participants in a project. This is like the Message feature. Note that announcements are always visible to all participants no matter when they joined the project. 

Can participants send messages to the REDCap team via the MyCap app? 

Yes, participants can send messages to via their MyCap App to the REDCap users on a project. REDCap users are NOT notified when a participant sends a message. 

  • In REDCap 13.0+, REDCap admins and users with “MyCap Participant Management” rights can view message from any participant/record. When a message is received, a badge displays beside “MyCap Participant Management” to indicate if there are unread messages. From MyCap Participant Management > Messages, REDCap users can view Messages received from participants. 
  • In the MyCap External Module, all messages are displayed in the Messages > Inbox. The Message Inbox should be monitored regularly. 

Active Tasks

What is an active task? 

Active tasks are designed to measure sensory information using a device’s sensors (camera, microphone, screen, or speakers). Amongst many other capabilities, active tasks allow researchers to measure a participant’s range of motion, spatial memory, reaction time, speech recognition abilities, and tapping speed all through the MyCap App. Active tasks can capture information that would otherwise typically require a clinic visit to capture. 

Does MyCap support active tasks? 

MyCap supports active tasks in seven distinct categories. This includes activities related to motor skills, fitness, cognition, speech, hearing, hand dexterity, and vision. Click here to see which activities are supported by iOS versus Android platforms. 

Inviting Participants: Dynamic Links and QR Codes 

How do participants join a project? 

Each participant using MyCap must have a record ID in the REDCap project before they can join the project in their MyCap App. After the participant record is created, participant’s access can be granted via a unique QR Code or Dynamic Link (i.e., hyperlink). Participant records can be created by having the participant complete an intake survey (recommended). Alternatively, research teams can add (or import) participants directly in REDCap or directly into MyCap.  

What information is included in the Dynamic Links and QR Codes? 

The Dynamic Links and QR Codes contain three data elements: the participant ID, REDCap project ID, and an institution ID. Researcher teams can view each participant’s unique QR Code in their MyCap online interface on each Participant’s Profile. 

How do I decide whether to onboard participants via Dynamic Links or QR Codes? 

Participant Onboarding Procedure Recommend Method for Joining MyCap Details 
In-person screening completed on study team device (e.g., computer, tablet) QR Code displayed at the end of a survey* The participant can scan the QR Code displayed at the end of the survey and displayed on the study team’s device. Participants can scan the QR Code using their personal mobile device. 
In-person screening using the participant’s device (e.g., filling out online intake survey) Dynamic Link displayed at the end of a survey* or sent via email or text** If only the participant’s personal mobile device is available for the intake, it is recommended that the Dynamic Link be displayed at the end of the survey so the participant can simply click to join the project. 
Fully remote Dynamic Link displayed at the end of a survey* or sent via email or text** The participant may not have separate devices to complete the survey and scan a QR Code. If they are using their phone to complete an intake assessment, the Dynamic Link can appear after the survey is completed. Alternatively, it could be sent to the participant which they can pull up on their phone to join the project. 

* Enter HTML provided into Survey Settings > Survey Completion Text 

** REDCap has the capability to send SMS text messages for Alerts & Notifications by using a third-party web service named Twilio (www.twilio.com). To use this feature, you must have a paid Twilio.com user account since there is a cost for each phone call made and for each SMS message sent.  

What is a Dynamic Link? 

MyCap leverages Google’s Firebase Dynamic Links that allow participants to click on a URL to join a MyCap project, even if they do not yet have MyCap installed. This allows participants to join projects without requiring the use of QR Codes and helps decrease accessibility barriers to MyCap.  

How do I send a participant their Dynamic Link? 

Dynamic Links can be sent to participants via email, such as REDCap’s Alerts & Notifications or text, if using a third-party service like Twilio (see ** under table above), or a Dynamic Link can be set to appear in the “Survey Completion Text” after a REDCap survey is completed. 


What happens when participants click on a Dynamic Link? 

If Participant hasn’t installed the MyCap App:  If participant has installed MyCap but hasn’t joined any projects: If participant is using MyCap for other projects: 
Participant is redirected to Google Play or Apple Store to install the MyCap App. Once they have installed the app, they are redirected to the MyCap home page where they can click “Join project”.  MyCap is opened once they click the URL and participants press join project. Participant is redirect to Dynamic Link page and presses “join project”. MyCap opens to an existing project. Participants navigate to their profile and click “Join another project”. Participant is redirect to Dynamic Link page and presses “join project”. 

What information is in the QR code? 

The QR code contains three data elements: the participant ID, REDCap project ID, and an institution ID. Researcher teams can view each participant’s unique QR code in their MyCap online interface on each Participant’s Profile. 

What happens when participants scan a QR Code? 

Participant must scan the QR Code using the MyCap App, not their device’s camera. After scanning the QR Code, the MyCap App immediately takes the participant through several setup screens, including the project’s About Screen(s).  

Can I automatically disseminate the Dynamic Link or QR Code to participants? 

Yes! MyCap provides text and/or HMTL that can be used to automatically trigger the dissemination of the Dynamic Link and/or QR Code for participants. After copying the text/HTML, it can be inserted as (a) Survey Completion Text that is displayed after a survey is completed or (2) REDCap Alerts and Notifications that are automatically triggered once logic is met (e.g., a record is created or saved).  

  • In REDCap, the text is provided under MyCap Participant Management > Participant List > Invite Participants.  
  • In the MyCap External Module, first set the trigger for when the QR code or Dynamic Link should be generated under MyCap External Module > Configure App > Setup. Once that is set, locate the HTML to use in Survey Completion Text and /or Alerts and Notifications under MyCap External Module > Participants > Participant Access Information. 

Check out our How Participants Join Projects Quick Guide for instructions on setting up the automated emails. 

Can MyCap support remote participant setup/enrollment? 

Absolutely! For fully remote trials, we recommend using Dynamic Links for onboarding participants as everything can be done from a single mobile device. You can review the table on Participant Onboarding Procedures above. 

Can I allow participants to disable the passcode requirement when they open the app? 

A participant is required to create a 6-digit PIN unique to the MyCap App. Participants may also unlock the MyCap App using biometric identification when the device allows it. Participants can choose to disable the MyCap App’s passcode security in MyCap settings. 

REDCap Features

Is branching logic supported? 

Yes, branching logic within a single instrument is supported. Single-statement ([foo] = 1) branching logic has always been supported. Complex branching logic ([foo] = 1 AND ([bar] > 2 OR [baz] = ‘Hello’)) is available since MyCap Android v1.5.1 and iOS v2.5.0. However, mathematical functions “([foo] > ROUND(2.5)” are not supported. Branching logic between instruments is not yet supported. 

Can I use action tags/smart variables?  

MyCap is not compatible with REDCap’s smart variables, piping, field embedding, special functions, and most action tags. MyCap does honor the @HIDDEN action tag and does have a number of unique action tags specific to MyCap. For example, the @MC-FIELD-FILE-IMAGECAPTURE action tag applied to a REDCap File Upload field would allow a participant to capture a photo using their device’s camera. View the list of MyCap action tags in the REDCap action tag help text (if using REDCap 13.0 on a project) or from the External Module MyCap > Help > Annotations > Extended Behavior.  

Is piping supported? 

Not at this time. 

Can you put HTML in field labels? 

Not at this time. Native mobile application development does not use HTML to render screens. We will convert basic HTML elements, such as links and lists, to the appropriate equivalent in the future. 

Security

Could you describe the security features of MyCap? 

  • Participant data is stored locally on the device in an AES-256+SHA2 encrypted database. Data remains on the device if an internet connection is not available. Applies to both iOS and Android devices. 
  • When an internet connection is available, data is transmitted directly to REDCap using a SSL (TLS v1.2) connection. A hash-based message authentication code (HMAC) is used to verify the integrity of the data and to authenticate the sender. 
  • Participant entered data (i.e. task responses) are not stored or sent anywhere else. Data exists on the participant’s device or on your server. 
  • Data is wiped from the device after the MyCap app verifies that data has been successfully transmitted. Note that there is an optional MyCap feature that lets a participant see some of the data s/he has entered for an individual task/instrument/survey. By default, data is wiped. 
  • Participants create a 6-digit PIN that is used to open the App. A participant can disable the PIN feature. 

Also see security and architecture overviews below. 

Security PDFDownload 

Architecture PDFDownload 

Does MyCap use any 3rd party services? 

The MyCap AppMyCap App uses Firebase Analytics, Crashlytics, and Cloud Messaging. Firebase generates its own identifiers that live on the participant’s device. There is no way for Vanderbilt to link a MyCap participant code to a Firebase user identifier. Participant meta-data stored in Firebase cannot be linked to participants in your project. 

Messages sent to and from a participant are transmitted via the MyCap API, not Cloud Messaging. Cloud Messaging simply handles push notifications and the push notification message is always “You have a secure message waiting.” 

Support

How do I get help with MyCap? 

  • Feature requests or bug reports: Post to the MyCap space. 
  • Join the weekly MyCap Assistance call, Tuesdays at 11AM Central 
  • Email mycap@vumc.org if you have something private to discuss that should not be posted in the MyCap space. Example, a specific project for one of your investigators. 
  • REDCapU webinar #7. ~2hr overview of MyCap. For REDCap Admins 
  • Instructional video. Excerpt from webinar #7. For REDCap Users.