Data Acquisition

Primary Data Collection

The Methods Core staff has extensive experience in implementing a wide variety of data collection processes. We can assist you with sample design, power analysis, and data capture process design. We create online surveys using REDCap.


Secondary Data

The Methods Core staff has experience in negotiating data use agreements and can help investigators access and use many of the publicly available data sets relevant to outcomes and health services research.  We also have several important data sets on-site.


Methods Core Data Library

While we can help you obtain many datasets, we do have important data holdings available to our affiliates. We attempt to keep the MarketScan databases up-to-date, while other databases such as the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), can be updated on an as-needed basis.


Health Care Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP)

Conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the HCUP studies are the Nation’s most comprehensive source of hospital data, including information on in-patient care, ambulatory care, and emergency department visits. CHeSS affiliates may access the national data sets after signing the HCUP Data Use Agreement (DUA) and completing the required training. Access to state-level databases also requires re-use approval by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

HCUP Database Methods Core Holdings
National (Nationwide) Inpatient Sample (NIS) 1988 to 2013
Kids’ Inpatient Database (KID) 2003, 2006, 2009, 2012, 2016
Emergency Department Sample (NEDS) 2006 to 2013
State Inpatient Databases California (2010 & 2011)


The Merative™ Research Databases

The Merative™ MarketScan® Research Databases contain individual-level, de-identified, healthcare claims information from employers, health plans, hospitals, and Medicare and Medicaid programs. Since their creation in the early 1990s, the MarketScan Databases have grown into one of the largest collections of de-identified patient-level data in the United States. These databases reflect real-world treatment patterns and costs by tracking millions of patients as they travel through the healthcare system, offering detailed information about all aspects of care. Data about individual patients are integrated from all providers of care, maintaining healthcare utilization and cost record connections at the patient level. Used primarily for research, these databases are fully compliant with U.S. privacy laws and regulations (i.e., HIPAA). Research using MarketScan data has been widely published in peer-reviewed medical and health services journals.

The Merative™ MarketScan® Research Databases consist of several different data sets. The current University of Chicago MarketScan research license includes access to the Commercial Claims and Encounters (CCAE) Database. For information about other Marketscan Research Databases please visit the Merative website

THE COMMERCIAL CLAIMS AND ENCOUNTERS (CCAE) DATABASE is a national collection of paid inpatient, outpatient, and pharmaceutical claims generated by between 17 and 53 million people per year. The data are collected from over 350 insurance carriers, Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, and third party administrators.

MarketScan Database Methods Core Holdings
CCAE 2003 to 2022

This data is available to CHeSS affiliates to support proposal development and to conduct unfunded research. Funded projects incur a substantial use fee. Please review the guidelines for data access and data governance here or contact the Methods Core for details.


Other Databases


The Chicago Area Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Network (CAPriCORN) is a partnership of research institutions, clinicians, patients, and patient advocates. The CAPriCORN mission is to develop, test, and implement policies and programs that will improve health care quality, health outcomes, and health equity for the richly diverse populations of the metropolitan Chicago region and beyond. Within the Chicago metropolitan area, CAPriCORN seeks to address the needs of an estimated 9.5 million residents, including groups that experience significant health inequities partly due to variable access to high-quality care. The University of Chicago Medicine is one of the 11 Chicago area institutions that are part of CAPriCORN.

As one of thirteen clinical data research networks (CDRNs) funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), CAPriCORN is able to contribute data and expertise to strengthen the capacity of PCORnet to engage in sustainable, population-wide, and patient-centered outcomes research.

The Methods Core staff can provide guidance and assist researchers navigate the CAPriCORN front door process to access standardized and de-identified data to support patient-centered outcomes research. For more information about CAPriCORN please contact the Methods Core.