Self-Serve Data Tools

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

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

Cohort Discovery                                     

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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)DataDirect button

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 Training is also available!


Download Data

computer with graphics download

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:

access request form

Questions? Contact us at Training is also available!

DataDirect FAQ

What is the difference between “Cohort Mode” and “De-Identified Mode”?

  • 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.

What are the prerequisites for accessing 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.

What are the prerequisites for accessing De-Identified Mode?

Can I access DataDirect off-site?

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

When I enter a diagnosis in the search field, several ICD codes are displayed. How do I know which one/s to select?

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.

How do I share a query?

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.

Is there a variable for “reason for visit”?

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 following this link.

Does encounter data contain any physician notes from discussions with the patient?

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 for Clinical & Translational Research (DOCTR) following this link.

I have a HUM# from an IRB approved study. The IRB does not specifically state we will be using DataDirect, can I still use this HUM for using the tool? Do I need a specific IRB only for using the self-serve DataDirect tool?

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.

Are echocardiograph interpretations available through DataDirect?

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

VIDEO: How do I connect to Precision Health DataDirect? (campus-wide)

How do I securely store patient data?

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

document with magnifying glass


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. List of MRNs can also be obtained from the Data Office through a data request.

Log in to EMERSE here.

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


EMERSE How-To Videos

How do I log in?



What do I need to know about the system?



How do I search patient lists?



How can synonyms help my search?



What are Quick Terms?



What is a term bundle?



What is the best way to see all of my searches in one place?



How else can I help improve my searches?



How can I add comments and tags to patient lists?



How can I do more complex searches?



How do I do a search for all patients within the U-M Health System?



How do I merge patient lists?




  • Precision Health Analytics Platform Documentation Site – 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 – Available via PDF download, 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 or call (734) 615-2100 

North Campus Research Complex, Building 400, 1600 Huron Parkway, Ann Arbor, MI 48105

A list of Data Office contacts is available in the Personnel Directory