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Data Extraction Concierge Service (DECS)

The Data Extraction Concierge Service (DECS) provides UCSD patient and health data extracts for research purposes. Currently, DECS pulls data from the UCSD EPIC Electronic Medical Records system, but will support additional data sources in the future.

Requests to DECS can be simple (e.g., “all female patients diagnosed with lung cancer in 2016”) to very complex (e.g., “Patients seen in 2012-2016 that presented with specific diagnoses within 3 months of an ER visit, including all culture labs, antibiotic medications, and surgeries”). The data extract can include many different types of information, such as:

  • Patient demographics
  • Visits
  • Diagnoses
  • Medications
  • Lab results
  • Procedures
  • Insurance
  • Radiology images

Any data visible in Epic can be included in an extraction request.

DECS delivers results to the requester through a dedicated Virtual Research Desktop (VRD). By default, we provide requested data in a Microsoft Excel workbook (.xlsx), but we can support other data formats.

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How to make a DECS Request

You create a DECS request via the ACTRI service request form.

To create your request you will need the following information:

  • Details on the P.I. and the requester (if different).
  • IRB# (Generally required, but see below).
  • A charge index for billing DECS service.
  • The details of your request:

    • Inclusion criteria
    • Exclusion criteria
    • Date range for the data
    • What data you want retrieved – you can request multiple sets of related data (e.g., demographics for the matching patients, plus lists of medications administered in ED encounters, and notes from phone encounters).

IRB Required?

Not all DECS requests will require an IRB#.

If you are not sure if your study needs an IRB# for a DECS request, there are helpful flowcharts and documentation on the UCSD IRB website:

Request Guidelines

Defining a “good” DECS request is not a simple task, so here are some helpful tips:

  • For diagnosis criteria, please specify all of the ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes you need. Note that we do need ICD-9 as ICD-10 was only mandatory after 1 October 2015; earlier diagnoses will include ICD-9.
  • For procedure criteria, please provide specific CPT codes.
  • With procedures, medications, and labs there can be multiple EPIC entries for each name – your DECS analyst will likely need to review the lists with you to specify exactly which items should be part of your request.
  • Be very specific about which data fields you require in the data results.

If you need help defining the specifics of your request, we can assist.

DECS Costs

So, how much will our DECS request cost?

Recharge Rate

The current recharge rate for DECS is $128/hour. Note that this rate is subject to change (with notice).

Payment can be made with a valid recharge index, and/or an ACTRI Voucher (if eligible).

ACTRI Recharge Rates

What Gets Charged

We primarily bill for the development time creating and executing your request, plus the time to compile and release the results.

We do not charge for initial meetings and consultation, part of request set-up.

Generally, we do not charge the client for e-mails and similar communications, unless they involve changes to the request. We also do not charge for the time a request runs on the server.

If a request needs to be re-run or re-published, we may charge for the time taken.

So How Much?

Generally, the final cost of a DECS request is proportional to its complexity: Number of elements (variables) to retrieve, number of inclusion and exclusion criteria, and how easy it is to retrieve the requested data.

As part of the initial review meeting, your DECS analyst can generally provide an estimate for the time and cost. It’s difficult to provide a firm quote, as each DECS request is unique – as work proceeds we can generally improve the estimate.

Some broad guidelines:

  • Very simple requests: 1-3 hours (<$400).
  • Common requests: 4-6 hours ($450-$700).
  • Complex requests: 7-9 hours ($800-$1,000)
  • Very complex requests: 10+ hours ($1,100+)

If your data budget is very tight, we can often organize your request into multiple “phases”, to meet your key requirements first, and the rest if the budget allows.

What If I Need a New Set Of Data?

If your request needs to be run periodically (even years later), we only charge for the time to set up the request and compile the results, normally <1 hour. Trivial changes to the request parameters (e.g., a date range) shouldn’t incur any additional cost.

DECS Policies & Procedures


How much does a DECS request cost?

The cost of a DECS request will depend on a number of factors, most importantly the complexity of the request.

A simple request will normally charge 2-4 billable hours, more complicated requests requiring 5-10 hours, and very complicated requests 10+ hours.

The final cost is based on the current ACTRI Recharge Rates.

Once I submit my request, when will I get the results?

DECS requests are processed on a first-come-first-serve basis, so the timing will depend on the number (and complexity) of any requests ahead of yours in the queue.

How far back does Epic data go?

The UCSD Epic EMR contains data from 2003 onwards, but with significant caveats:

  • Data before 2005 is likely incomplete.
  • Not all UCSD Health units started documentation in Epic at the same time.
  • Outpatient encounter documentation started in 2005.
  • Inpatient and cancer encounters were added ~2010.
  • Labor & delivery encounters were added in March 2011.