Health Services Research
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The Common Data Model

Developed by PCORnet, the Common Data Model version 3.0 (CDM), is a method of organizing data into a standard structure to enhance its usability in research. The CDM, along with REACHnet’s Global Patient Identification (GPID) system, enable the creation of a single health record for each patient composed of records from any partner institution where care was delivered. Currently, there are 3.6 million lives in the CDM.

REACHnet’s partners map patient data from their internal health records to CDM specifications and transfer the CDM to REACHnet’s datacenter. Previously a research query to find patients with a Date of Birth in a given range would have to be re-written at each institution to reflect the design of their electronic medical record. Not only is this time consuming, but it also increases the chance for errors. Using the CDM, however, the exact same query can be run at all sites and all results received will be in the same format. This design facilitates interoperability, expedites the research process, and reduces duplication of efforts.

The CDM is a limited dataset which means that the only Protected Identifiable Information (PII) is dates such as birth dates, encounter dates, procedure dates, among others. The composition of the CDM as a limited dataset eliminates many of the risks associated with PII as names, social security numbers, addresses, and other elements that lead to identity theft are absent. However, the lack of PII makes it difficult to match patient across health systems and more accurately identify them for research studies that require a richer longitudinal level of data. To solve that challenge, REACHnet has created a Global Patient Identification (GPID) system that matches patients without the sharing of identifiable information.