Friday, November 9, 2012
This tutorial is designed to help prepare you to use the "Tab-delimited Upload" feature found under the PARS application’s Activities tab in order to import data about multiple CME activities at one time.
Before we begin, let’s verify that this approach is best for you. It will help you to ask yourself three questions regarding the way in which your organization produces and maintains CME activity data.
- Does your organization conduct many CME activities each year?
If the answer to this is “yes,” then tab-delimited upload is the right approach for you. If not, you might consider entering your activities individually via the Web-based entry form found under the PARS "Activities" tab.
- Are you currently using a database or CME tracking system to record data about your CME activities?
If the answer to this question is “yes,” PARS provides two ways to import data from your organization’s current database: XML upload or tab-delimited upload.
- Does your database or CME tracking system use XML?
Extensible Markup Language, or XML, is a standard format used to exchange electronic data over the Internet. If your current database or CME tracking system uses XML, you may want to take advantage of XML-based upload. Although XML upload will not be discussed as part of this tutorial, the PARS application Help links for XML should guide you to other resources that will help you and your information technology staff.
If you’ve answered “yes” to the first two questions and will not be using the XML upload process, then the tab-delimited upload is the best approach for your organization. Let’s review how you can use this feature.
Overview of the Tab-delimited Upload Process
PARS was designed with flexibility in mind. If you conduct several CME activities each year, it’s likely that you’re using a database, spreadsheet, or some other tracking system to store the data that the ACCME requires you to have about your CME program and activities. PARS allows you to upload data about multiple activities at one time. This can help you to greatly reduce the time and effort needed to put your CME activity data into PARS.
In this tutorial, we’ll show you how tab-delimited uploading involves exporting activity data from your CME tracking system, formatting the data in a special way – called a “tab-delimited text file” – and then using the upload tool in the PARS application to bring your data into the PARS database. As we review the process of tab-delimited uploading, it is important to keep in mind that a tab-delimited text file with activities prior to 2010 will contain slightly different pieces of information than one with activities delivered from 2011 and after. Because of this activites from 2010 and earlier need to be uploaded in a separate file. More information about this can be found in the PARS FAQ “What is a tab-delimited batch upload?”
Once your data is formatted correctly, the tab-delimited upload itself is a simple process. In the videos below, we’ll provide you with an overview of how to conduct a tab-delimited upload successfully.
Preparing Your Data for Tab-delimited Upload
The “What is a tab-delimited batch upload?” FAQ page links you to two tools that will be helpful in conducting a data upload using a tab-delimited file. Please go to that page now and download the Tab-delimited File Upload Instructions and the Tab-delimited Activity File Template as we will reference them in the video instructions that follow.
Print or open the Tab-delimited File Upload Instructions document. In the table of contents, we see that the first few pages of this document are the actual step-by-step instructions for creating a tab-delimited file. The remainder of this document is comprised of a number of appendices that both provide some help with understanding PARS’ format requirements and also some tools for troubleshooting problems with tab-delimited upload. Through the next several videos, we will explore the upload instructions and the sample Excel spreadsheet template in more depth.
Now that you have a basic understanding of what the tab-delimited upload process is as well as why you might use it and have the tools open that you will need to conduct a tab-delimited upload, watch the following 4 video FAQs to help you:
- find information about what data you will need to have available for each activities,
- understand how you can use the sample tab-delimited spreadsheet template, and
- walk through the steps of a tab-delimited upload