Access Clinical Data for Research

The Boston Medical Center (BMC) Clinical Data Warehouse (CDW) for Research leverages clinical information from BMC's Electronic Health Record (EHR) and other Health System-related data streams to create a repository of data to support research.

The CDW can:

  1. Help formulate a CDW data request
  2. Estimate the cost of a CDW data request
  3. Provide count data for feasibility analysis or proposal/grant preparation without IRB approval (so called prep-to-research).
  4. Provide extracts of data housed in the CDW for retrospective or prospective research studies. This includes cohort identification, individual-level data sets, and linked data sets from multiple sources. Projects requesting individual-level data must have IRB approval. Some data streams may require additional permission to access those data from the CDW, including OCHIN data from Community Health Centers.   

Current Wait Times & Fees

Please note: Given current request volume, wait times may be longer than typical estimates.
Request Type Current Wait Time Fee
Simple Counts
Counts delivered within 10 business days
No fee for aggregate, simple count requests
Cohort Identification and Recruitment List
List delivered in 2-4 weeks


If funded by a BMC/BU account or grant, or if funds originate from a Boston HealthNet Community Health Center: $75 per hour.

If funded by for-profit funders, or if account is external to BU/BMC/Boston HealthNet: $131.25 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 CDW. Available clinical data 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 CDW 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 CDW. CDW analysts will work with your team to find the data necessary for analysis.

What services does the CDW provide?

With appropriate approvals, CDW analysts can extract data sets with individual-level data to investigators – including cohort identification files, de-identified data sets, limited data sets, and identifiable data sets, either retrospectively or prospectively. The CDW can also combine data from multiple systems, such as crosswalking BMC EPIC clinical data with CHC OCHIN data for patients with health care encounters at BMC and CHCs.

The CDW team can also provide investigators with count information (i.e. aggregated data, not supplied at the individual patient level) to prepare for a research study.

The CDW is available to assist with formulating a strong data request as well as estimate the cost of a CDW request.

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, aquisiton of funding, and completion of the CDW data request. Research teams should plan on at least a 6-8 week wait between IRB approval and receipt of the data. Expected wait times by request type are provided above.

How much do services cost?

Currently, the CDW charges:

  • $75 per hour if funded by a BMC/BU account or grant, and
  • $131.25 per hour if funded by for-profit funders, or if account is external to BU/BMC.

See Fees and Billing.

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

The CDW analysts are available to make cost estimates for their work. 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. CDW 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 accept?

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

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

Investigators with limited resources or who are underfunded are encouraged to check with their Department or Division to secure funding.

In addition, the BU CTSI has a voucher program to help support investigators. Vouchers provide a maximum of $5,000.

The CDW 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 provides three free hours of count request services to investigators with the expectation that funding for further CDW services are included in proposal budgets. Requests of count data (e.g. the number of hospitalized patients with pneumonia in 2018) do not require IRB approval.

If you are concerned about CDW fees, please reach out to cdw@bmc.org to schedule a consultation. We can work with you to keep costs low.

What if I need data for non-research purposes?

The CDW is intended for research purposes only. For all other data request purposes, please submit a ServiceNow ticket at https://bmc.service-now.com

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

What if I still have questions?

Contact us! The team is ready to answer your questions. Email cdw@bmc.org.