CCTS Clinical Research Informatics faculty and data analysts work with investigators to support clinical investigation, bringing expertise in the integration of large clinical, environmental, social, public health and other large data sets to address significant population-based translational research questions.

CCTS Clinical Research Informatics provides access to clinical data in the UAB Health System electronic health records to support: 

  • Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) Initiative
  • Data access and exchange (via i2b2, SHRINE, and EDW analysts)
  • Subject recruitment and retention tools—cohort feasibility, subject identification (with IRB approval), clinical phenotype
  • Design and implementation of clinical research studies and secondary data analyses
  • Targeting clinical trial opportunities (TriNetX)
  • Informatics research (UAB Informatics Institute)
  • Data science for population insights and "big data" integration 

Use of Patient Health Data for Research

Feasibility review is a process to make sure that a proposed study has a greater probability of being successfully completed. CCTS Clinical Research Informatics can help investigators generate an aggregate assessment of potentially eligible patients for any clinical study. We retrieve patient data via i2b2 and PowerInsight.

i2b2

I2b2 (Informatics for Integrating Bench to Bedside) is a self-service clinical data warehouse that can provide summary, limited, or detailed patient data in response to specific queries (e.g., “find me all the patients that have systemic lupus erythematosus and a hemoglobin level of less than 10”). i2b2 can be used when preparing a grant proposal to estimate the number of patients in the UAB Health System that might qualify for a study. It can also be used to obtain detailed patient data, either in identified form for subjects who have been enrolled, or could be enrolled, in an IRB-approved research study or in limited form (i.e., data sets from which all identifiers have been removed except dates and zip codes) that can be analyzed directly.

PowerInsight

PowerInsight provides access to more detailed data about UAB patients but must be accessed with the help of an EDW analyst (see below). While more comprehensive, it cannot be used directly and so involves some wait time for results. You may wish to try i2b2 on your own first.

CCTS Clinical Research Informatics also supports investigator access to UAB electronic health record data via either (1) our self-service i2b2 tool or (2) an EDW analyst.

Self-Service Access to Clinical Data via i2b2

UAB investigators can access clinical data directly through i2b2 to obtain patient data summaries, for use in cohort estimation, or to obtain detailed data to assist study enrollment or to for analysis.

Using i2b2 offers investigators certain benefits, including the ability to search clinical data in real time and to change search variables “on the fly” in response to results. i2b2 users face certain limitations, however, including the inability to access clinical data containing Protected Health Information (PHI). Though significant in terms of the breadth and depth of data, i2b2 does not exactly mirror the data elements available for query as in the EDW.

Instructions on accessing, learning, and using i2b2 can be found here.

Analyst-facilitated Access to Clinical Data via Enterprise Data Warehouse

Data Request Form buttonFor more complex data queries not easily enabled through i2b2, data requests are submitted through the CCTS Research Commons and assigned to EDW analysts, who work closely with investigators to hone queries and to access information. With appropriate IRB approval, this process allows investigators to access detailed data for research, including individually identifiable health information (PHI, PII) that can be leveraged for study recruitment purposes.  

To consult the analyst team, please complete a clinical data request form.

While you are waiting to hear back from the analyst team, give i2b2 a try by following the instructions found under “Self-Service Access to Clinical Data via i2b2” above.

TriNetX

Researchers can use i2b2 to determine whether a sizable number of patients exist that meet their study inclusion/exclusion criteria. The TriNetX network does the same thing but across several dozen linked institutional i2b2 instances, including those at CCTS Partners UAB and Tulane, to identify potential clinical trial sites. To explore the TriNetX option, contact CCTS Research Commons at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

Study Design & Execution

The development of clinical research studies at UAB requires careful coordination with the UAB Health System through its electronic health record (Impact). Investigators will use OnSite to design the data collection and treatment schedules, as well as data collection forms. OnSite will interact with PowerTrials, a part of the Impact system, to implement plans in the form of order sets. Patients will be enrolled as subjects in studies through PowerTrials, which will communicate back to OnSite to enable study management and collection of data through case report forms. Case report forms can also be captured using the REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture) system. For more information on PowerTrials and OnSite, contact CCTS Codirector and UAB Informatics Institute Director Dr. James J. Cimino at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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