Graduation Date

Spring 5-4-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biomedical Informatics

First Advisor

James McClay

Second Advisor

Jane Meza

Third Advisor

Dario Ghersi


Since the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, the use of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) in the healthcare system has increased substantially. Accompanying this surge in EHR usage is a surge in healthcare data and increased opportunities to improve our understanding of health care through research using these data. The use of EHR data for research has many benefits, limitations and considerations. Using data that was originally intended to facilitate billing, insurance, and maintenance of clinical records for research can be fraught with challenges, but they can also be a rich source of information. This paper addresses some of these benefits and challenges, along with additional considerations, including ensuring the best quality data, selecting a good study design, tailoring research questions and queries to available data, and understanding ethical issues in using patient data for research. Researchers should develop a clear understanding of the pitfalls inherent in EHR research before beginning a project. As is the case with most research, many of the drawbacks can be reduced with careful preparation, formulation of a research question, procedures and data management.