Access Clinical Data for Research

The Boston Medical Center (BMC) Clinical Data Warehouse (CDW) for Research is a centralized resource to access patient-level and population-level data for research. CDW for Research analysts extract clinical information from BMC's Electronic Health Records (EHR) and other health system-related data streams to leverage data for research. The CDW for Research also collaborates with Departments and Divisions to increase research infrastructure and better leverage data for research purposes.

CDW for Research Services

FY23 Services


Current Wait Times & Fees - Updated October 2022

Please let us know if you are working against a deadline. Our team will always attempt to accomodate.

Request Type Current Wait Time Fee
Simple Counts
Counts delivered within 5 business days
No fee for aggregate, simple count requests
Cohort Identification and Recruitment List
List delivered in 2-4 weeks

If BMC/BU account funded by government, not-for-profit, or internal/discretionary funds: $100 per hour.

If funded by industry/for-profit funder, or if the account sits external to BU/BMC: $175 per hour

Patient-Level Data Sets
6-8 weeks before a CDW analyst can begin to work on a request. Research teams are encouraged to plan accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What data are available?

Most data that are recorded in Epic are captured in the data warehouse. Available clinical data from Epic and OCHIN include patient demographics, data collected during health care encounters (in-patient admissions, offices visits, emergency department visits, surgical procedures, telemedicine, etc.), diagnoses, procedures, documentation flowsheets, lab values, medications, and clinical notes.

In addition to data from Epic and OCHIN, the data warehouse includes data from various data systems that are no longer in active clinical use (legacy systems). These legacy systems include PICIS (operating room data), IBEX (emergency department data), SDK (patient registration data), SCM (inpatient EHR data), Logician (outpatient EHR data), and EWS/IDX (patient scheduling data). Legacy systems are not actively maintained; data from them can be cumbersome to extract and are not monitored for quality.

In some instances, certain data elements that are visible to frontline Epic users may be generated at the point of care and may not be captured within the data warehouse. CDW for Research analysts will work with your team to find the data necessary for analysis.

Read more about Data Available from the CDW for Research.

What services does the CDW for Research provide?

If you need data for a study:
With appropriate approvals, CDW for Research analysts provide extracts of data housed in the data warehouse for retrospective or prospective research studies. This includes cohort identification and recruitment lists, de-identified data sets, limited data sets, and patient-level identifiable data sets. The CDW for Research can also merges from multiple systems, such as crosswalking BMC EPIC clinical data with CHC OCHIN data for patients with health care encounters at BMC and CHCs.

If you are preparing for a study:
The CDW for Research offers consultations with study teams to identify robust data to answer your research question, estimate the cost of a data request, develop your study IRB protocol, determine if manual chart review would be required for your study, and formulate an effective CDW for Research data request.

The CDW for Research team also provides investigators with cohort size simple counts (i.e. aggregated data, not supplied at the patient level) to prepare for a research study or IRB protocol submission.

Read more about CDW for Research Services.

How long does it take to get my data?

Wait times for data delivery depend on a variety of factors, including the current request queue and scope of the project and fluctuate throughout the year. It is the responsibility of the research team to allow ample time for IRB approval, acquisition of funding, and completion of the CDW for Research data request. Research teams should plan for a several weeks between submission of a fully completed CDW for Research data request (including confirmation of IRB protocol approval/determination, confirmation of any special approvals, a fully completed CDW for Research data request form, and identifation of an account number to pay for services) and receipt of the data. Current expected wait times by request type are provided on our website homepage.

How much do services cost?

Currently, the CDW for Research charges:

  • $100 per hour if funded by a BMC/BU account with government, not-for-profit, or internal/discretionary funds, and
  • $175 per hour if funded by industry/for-profit funder, or if the account sits external to BU/BMC.

Read more about Fees and Billing.

How are cost estimates determined? What if my project changes?

The CDW for Research team is available to make cost estimates for their work. Email Estimates vary by request type, complexity, size, scope, and which data streams need to be accessed. Estimates are subject to change if the project deviates in scope after the initial estimate, or if there are unforeseen complications in obtaining relevant data fields. Analysts will communicate to the investigator when there is a significant change in the cost estimate (±20% deviation) to avoid unexpected charges.

What kinds of payments/funding does the CDW for Research accept?

Investigators can include the cost of CDW for Research services in their grant proposal budgets or can pay for services using internal funds, such as Department or Division funding or discretionary funds.

Read more about Fees and Billing.

What if I don't have funding for CDW for Research services?

Investigators without grant funding, who have limited resources, or who are underfunded are encouraged to check with their Department or Division to secure funding.

Additional internal funding mechanisms include:

  • the BU CTSI has a voucher program to help support investigators. Vouchers provide a maximum of $5,000.
  • the BMC Health Equity Accelerator offers seed funding of up to $3000 to 2 recipients on a quarterly basis. E-mail for more information.
  • the BMC Quality and Patient Safety (QPS) Department awards annual grants to proposals with one or more focus areas. Visit the Quality and Patient Safety Hub website for information.

The CDW for Research team is available to provide investigators with count information (i.e. aggregated data, not supplied at the individual patient level) to secure grant funding. The CDW for Research provides simple count services with the expectation that funding for further CDW for Research services are included in proposal budgets. Simple aggregate count data (e.g. the number of hospitalized patients with pneumonia in 2018) do not require IRB approval.

If you are concerned about CDW for Research fees, please reach out to to schedule a consultation. We can work with you to keep costs low.

What if I need data for non-research purposes?

The CDW for Research is intended for research purposes only. For all other data request purposes, please submit a ServiceNow ticket at

For information on Quality Improvement (QI)/Quality Assurance (QA) projects and IRB review, visit the BUMC IRB's website or contact the BMC QI Hub

What if I still have questions?

Contact us! The team is ready to answer your questions. Email