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Recent advances in technology have simplified the creation, collection, storage, and analysis of health care data. However, researchers and clinicians are still working to realize the potential of this data.

The UNC Program on Health and Clinical Informatics (PHCI), NC Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute (NC TraCS), and Program for Precision Medicine in Health Care (PPMH) are presenting a seminar series in May 2023 that will provide an introduction to working with electronic health care data. Each Wednesday from May 10 through May 31, 2023 features a presentation from 2:30-4:00pm, followed by Q&A on your research project with NC TraCS analysts from 4:00-4:30pm.

The content will include:

  Week   Topics covered   Instructor(s)
  1: May 10, 2023, 2:30-4:00pm
  • Overview of how EHR works and history of EHR as billing system 
  • How health care data is generated 
  • Types of data & documentation used in patient care vs. billing 
  • Structured vs. Non-structured data 
  • EHR database schemas & OMOP vocabulary
  • 4:00-4:30pm – office hours Q&A with NC TraCS analysts. In-person only
  Peter Leese
  2: May 17, 2023, 2:30-4:00pm
  • Clinical Terminologies 
  • Diagnoses & ICD codes 
  • Medications & lab data 
  • 4:00-4:30pm – office hours Q&A with NC TraCS analysts. In-person only
  Emily Pfaff
  3: May 24, 2023, 2:30-4:00pm
  • Patient encounters – inpatient versus outpatient 
  • Bringing domains together: encounters and stuff that happens at the encounters 
  • How slightly different queries can yield vastly different results 
  • 4:00-4:30pm – office hours Q&A with NC TraCS analysts. In-person only
  Peter Leese & Emily Pfaff
  4: May 31, 2023, 2:30-4:00pm
  • Elements and examples of a well-formed query 
  • Solicit analytical questions from participants. Instructor models how to write an analytical question in plain English and specify/define all nouns in the query 
  • How to build a robust query – how do you estimate costs 
  • Dos and don’ts in clinical data research 
  • Where to look things up 
  • Resources for getting started 
  • How to make the most of your time working with NC TraCS analysts 
  • 4:00-4:30pm – office hours Q&A with NC TraCS analysts. In-person only
  Mike Adams & Anna Jojic


Learning Objectives:
  1. Week 1: Understand the basics of how the US health care system generates data and how this data is stored in the EHR. 
  2. Week 2: Describe the code sets used to record health care data. 
  3. Week 3: Recognize the fundamental units of how health care data is organized in the EHR.  
  4. Week 4: Understand how to design a research question for clinical data. Identify resources at UNC that support clinical data research. 
Intended audience:

Graduate students, postdocs, faculty, and clinicians who are interested in research using clinical data from UNC’s EHR system and the Carolina Data Warehouse

Location, Times & Registration:

Wednesdays May 10, 17, 24, and 31, 2023

2:30-4:00pm Hybrid: Brinkhous-Bullitt 219 or by Zoom

4:00-4:30pm Office hours Q&A with NC TraCS analysts, in-person only at Brinkhous-Bullitt 219

Click here to register for in-person and Zoom attendance.

Seminars will be recorded and available on this website.



Questions? Email


 Click here to download series poster.


Click here to download the Electronic Health Data Basics helpful resources handout.

Links to seminar recordings and slides:

Date Link to recording Link to slides
May 10, 2023 May 10, 2023 recording 2023-PPMH EHR workshop session 1
May 17, 2023 May 17, 2023 recording 2023-PPMH EHR workshop session 2
May 24, 2023 May 24, 2023 recording 2023-PPMH EHR workshop session 3
May 31, 2023