PCORnet Common Data Model (CDM)

A patient-centered approach to building an agile research platform is at the heart of PCORnet, and data serves as the backbone. Considering the large number and diverse types of organizations that are part of PCORnet, we all benefit from having a streamlined, efficient way to use the data produced by these organizations. Enter the PCORnet Common Data Model.

PCORnet Common Data Model from PCORI on Vimeo.

The Common Data Model (or CDM) is a way of organizing data into a standard structure. The approach PCORnet is using to do this mirrors the approaches used by other large national research consortia. Each PCORnet partner network maps data to the same consistent format (i.e., with the same variable name, attributes, and other metadata). By undertaking this step, we create a platform that enables much more rapid responses to research-related questions. Contrast this with having to transform and prepare data each time we want to ask a new research question, and the efficiencies become clear.

The PCORnet CDM is based on the FDA Sentinel Initiative Common Data Model (www.sentinelsystem.org) and has been informed by other distributed initiatives such as the Health Care Systems Research Network, the Vaccine Safety Datalink, various AHRQ Distributed Research Network projects, and the ONC Standards & Interoperability Framework Query Health Initiative. The PCORnet CDM leverages standard terminologies and coding systems for healthcare (including ICD, SNOMED, CPT, HCPSC, and LOINC) to enable interoperability with and responsiveness to evolving data standards.

The PCORnet CDM (like other parts of PCORnet) will grow and evolve. Version 1.0 focused on a set of data items that are frequently available. Subsequent versions build in additional data elements which are analytically important for patient-centered outcomes research and feasible to standardize across sites. Learn more about the sources, scope, and quality of PCORnet data.

CDM Specifications and Data Quality Checks

*The following are links to PDFs or downloadable Excel files. 

CDM v4.1: Current Production Version*

PCORnet Data Quality Checks*

View useful tools for the CDM, such as the CDM-ERRATA and CDM-GUIDANCE issue trackers, on the PCORnet GitHub CDM Forum.

CDM Lay Guide

The Common Data Model Lay Guide is a brief summary using less technical, and more everyday language to define the CDM, its purpose, history, and key features.

PCORnet CDM Lay Guide [Link to PDF, updated January 2017]

CDM Glossary

The PCORnet Common Data Model (CDM) glossary was developed to facilitate a common vocabulary among users of the PCORnet Common Data Model.  We recognize that many of these terms have more than one meaning, and this glossary does not provide a comprehensive or authoritative definition of these terms, but simply defines how they are used in the context of the PCORnet Common Data Model.

PCORnet CDM Glossary [Link to PDF, updated December 2015]

Data Infrastructure Resources

  • The PCORnet Distributed Research Network utilizes the PopMedNet platform, a software application enabling simple creation, operation, and governance of distributed health data networks.
  • The PCORnet CDM is based on the FDA Sentinel Initiative Common Data Model.
  • Sentinel-PCORnet Data Linkage Collaboration White Paper (Link to PDF): Extending Comparative Effectiveness Research and Medical Product Safety Surveillance Capability through Linkage of Administrative Claims Data with Electronic Health Records: A Sentinel-PCORnet Collaboration.

PCORnet Meaningful Use

PCORnet has been and continues to accept data from Eligible Professionals (EPs), Eligible Hospitals (EHs) and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) in fulfillment of the Meaningful Use Incentive Programs Modified Stage 2: Objective 10: Public Health Reporting, Measure 3: Specialized Registry Reporting. Consistent with all applicable data sharing agreements and in accordance with applicable law, PCORnet accepts data from participating networks and aims to use these data to improve population health outcomes through the conduct of patient-powered research.  PCORnet receives data securely via the PopMedNet platform.  All submitted data are modeled against the current version of the PCORnet Common Data Model (CDM).  Data are refreshed regularly, and output is reviewed to ensure compliance with the CDM.  Non-responding networks or those that are non-compliant will be informed of non-compliance and required to rectify prior to eligibility for Meaningful Use attestation. To learn more about PCORnet and Meaningful Use, please contact [email protected].

Creative Commons LicensePCORnet Common Data Model is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Last updated on January 29, 2019