Self-Serve Data Tools
Phot of a person looking at DataDirect on their computer

Seamless Data Access

Get clinical, genetic, or radiology data by using one of our self-serve tools.

Make an Appointment

For your next study, use DataDirect or EMERSE, which are available free of charge for faculty researchers and their study team members to access both discrete variables and free-text string data from the electronic medical record (EMR). 

These self-serve tools offer access to a variety of clinical data, including:

  • Diagnoses
  • Encounters
  • Labs (ordered and results)
  • Medications (ordered and administered)
  • Procedures

(VPN network required)


(VPN network required)

Level-1 Access to Data
Cohort Discovery

DataDirect - Inform your study design and determine eligible patients with this easy, self-service tool that enables browsing up-to-date, de-identified data on more than 4 million patients from MiChart.

DataDirect is a self-serve tool enabling access to clinical data such as diagnoses, encounters, procedures, medications (ordered and administered), and labs (ordered and results) on more than 4 million unique patients from across the UMHS enterprise. DataDirect provides aggregate counts for cohort discovery and the ability to download patient health data.

Log in to DataDirect here (VPN network required)
Cohort Discovery Mode prerequisites include:

  • Level-2 password
  • Completion of any PEERRS module

Need assistance with pulling data in DataDirect? Do you need to know more about...

  • Accessing DataDirect?
  • Creating a new query?
  • What to do with your cohort results?
  • Requesting data with identifiers?

Answer all of these questions and more with our handy DataDirect User Guide!

Questions? Contact us at [email protected]. Training is also available!

Download Data
DataDirect PHI

DataDirect PHI - We have streamlined the process for requesting access to row-level PHI data from DataDirect (VPN network required), with faculty and permanent staff no longer required to apply for download access if all prerequisites listed below are in place. Keep in mind that students, house officers, and temporary staff are still required to apply for PHI mode access.

PHI/Download Data Mode prerequisites:

Questions? Contact us at [email protected]. Training is also available!

Access Request Form

DataDirect FAQs
  • Cohort Mode is used to define a cohort (group of patients/subjects of interest) based on inclusion criteria by filtering against defined data fields and provides aggregate counts only for patients who meet that criteria allowing the researcher to understand how many patients meet the criteria to be included in their research group.
  • De-Identified Mode allows users to access de-identified patient health data for a defined cohort. These cohorts can initially be assembled using Cohort Mode.
  • Level-1 password
  • Completion of HIPAA Training
  • Enrollment in DUO Authentication
  • U-M faculty position, or U-M staff/student with a faculty sponsor. Faculty are responsible for uploading unique names for their staff/students within the tool itself.

Yes, DUO authentication enables DataDirect access both from campus and off-campus; however, the individual will need to log on through a university VPN.

Determining which codes meet your inclusion criteria is a clinically informed decision to be made by your research team. Several different codes can be associated with a diagnosis/procedure. Consulting with a clinician who specializes in this area or reviewing the charts of patients known to have the diagnosis/procedure can assist in this determination.

In the upper right corner of the screen, there is a drop down option. Select “Share Your Query” within that menu. Sharing your query with team members can be used to reach a consensus on DataDirect inclusion selections. Your team members must also be authorized to use DataDirect.

Unfortunately, currently DataDirect does not capture reason for visit (follow-up or whether initiated by patient). However, the DOCTR team can do a custom pull (fee for service) for them.

DataDirect encounter data does not contain physician notes. If you are interested in physician notes, you can retrieve those through a custom pull (fee for service) from the Data Office.

As long as the HUM# allows for access to clinical data, then it does not have to specifically mention use of DataDirect. However, it is important to list in section 25 of the IRB application which variables you are interested in so it integrates with the DataDirect domains and it will control access on some level this way.

Currently, echocardiograph interpretations aren’t available through DataDirect. However, the DOCTR team can do a custom pull (fee for service).

View the Video

Use of patient health data for research is a privilege that comes with great responsibility.  Researchers are required to securely store patient health data in a HIPAA-configured location that has been set up to store sensitive data. Michigan Medicine prohibits the use of personally owned devices for storing patient data. Even if you believe most or all of the patient identifiers have been removed, the Data Office still requires that data be stored securely on HIPAA-aligned servers.

CLICK HERE for details regarding HIPAA safeguards when storing patient health data in U-M Dropbox.

Text Search

EMERSE (VPN network required) - Support your data discovery with this innovative self-service tool for searching words or phrases in text documents, such as dictated discharge summaries and pathology reports.
EMERSE (Electronic Medical Record Search Engine) enables users to search free text--also known as 'unstructured'--clinical notes from our electronic medical record. The clinical notes include text from MiChart (Epic), CareWeb (our prior EHR), radiology, pathology, and other reports dating back to 1998. EMERSE is easy to use and provides valuable features to help you find the information you need. The search function includes hundreds of thousands of synonyms to help you find alternative wording for clinical concepts, including generic and brand names of medications. EMERSE aids in cohort identification, eligibility determination, and data abstraction in a variety of research, clinical, and operational settings. With EMERSE you can paste in a list of medical record numbers (MRNs) you already have, or you can search across the entire dataset of notes to identify a cohort of interest and obtain their MRNs. A list of MRNs can also be obtained from the Data Office through a data request.

Log in to EMERSE Here (VPN network required)

Prerequisites include:

Access Request Form

For access to EMERSE for non-research purposes or if you have any questions, contact Dr. Dave Hanauer at (734) 615-0599 or via e-mail at [email protected].

EMERSE How-To Videos
Consultations & Training


The Data Office team offers a consultation service where a Data Specialist can provide a deeper dive into the myriad types of patient health data resources available. Schedule a 1:1 consultation.

Here are some examples of questions you may want to explore:

  • I’m doing a retrospective study on ICU patients. How far back do vitals data go?
  • I have genetic markers for my research participants. Can I get genetic information on healthy-matched controls?
  • Can I share de-identified data with another institution? Or with an industry partner?
  • Is it possible to retrieve survey data that patients provided through the patient portal?
  • I’m collaborating with colleagues in the College of Engineering. Can they store patient data on their servers?

Consulting hours by appointment only. Request a consultation now or call (734) 615-2100.


Webinars and training events are held throughout the year. Questions? Contact Arika Owens at [email protected].

References and Resources

Precision Health Analytics Platform Documentation Site – Available via Level-1 U-M login credentials, this site contains user guides, data dictionaries, and other tools and resources to get U-M researchers started with using the Precision Health Analytics Platform to facilitate their research.

DataDirect User Guide – The DataDirect User Guide includes step-by-step instructions, screenshots, and resources for completing frequently-used tasks. Please note that as DataDirect evolves, concepts presented in the User Guide will remain accurate, but the screenshots may vary slightly within the DataDirect tool.

Contact Us
Data Office for Clinical & Translational Research
Medical School Office of Research
North Campus Research Complex, Building 400
2800 Plymouth Road
Ann Arbor, 48109
Phone Number: 734-615-2100
About Us

The Data Office for Clinical & Translational Research, a unit of the Medical School Office of Research, fosters the translation of data into research that improves clinical outcomes by bridging the gap between personal health data and clinical research.