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EGEMS (Wash DC). 2019 Mar 25;7(1):4. doi: 10.5334/egems.279.

Learning to Share Health Care Data: A Brief Timeline of Influential Common Data Models and Distributed Health Data Networks in U.S. Health Care Research.

Author information

Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, US.


The last twenty years of health care research has seen a steady stream of common health care data models implemented for multi-organization research. Each model offers a uniform interface on data from the diverse organizations that implement them, enabling the sharing of research tools and data. While the groups designing the models have had various needs and aims, and the data available has changed significantly in this time, there are nevertheless striking similarities between them. This paper traces the evolution of common data models, describing their similarities and points of departure. We believe the history of this work should be understood and preserved. The work has empowered collaborative research across competing organizations and brought together researchers from clinical practice, universities and research institutes around the planet. Understanding the eco-system of data models designed for collaborative research allows readers to evaluate where we have been, where we are going as a field, and to evaluate the utility of different models to their own work.



Conflict of interest statement

RP has no competing financial interests, but is a long time implementer and user of the HCSRN VDW and has participated in its design process since at least 2009. He also supports KPWHRI’s implementations of the PCORnet and Sentinel data models and has been an end user of the PCORnet model and infrastructure. JW has no competing financial interests, but as an employee of KP Washington Health Research Institute has supported their use of CESR, OMOP, VDW, PCORnet, VSD, and Sentinel common data models. JW previously was an employee of CHI Institute of Research and Innovation (CIRI) and implemented the HCSRN VDW and OHDSI OMOP data models for the purpose of engaging in collaborative research with other hospital research institutes.

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