TriNetX Q&A: MUSC’s New Research Resource

Elizabeth Szwast
June 26, 2020
TriNetX screenshot
Test screenshot from the TriNetX platform.

Q&A with the Team Managing TriNetX

Q: What is TriNetX?

A: TriNetX is a user-friendly platform that researchers can utilize to query de-identified data from MUSC’s Electronic Health Record (EHR). The TriNetX platform is available to MUSC research teams to support enhanced research feasibility assessments, create a cohort of patients for research data sets, protocol development, and the creation of participant lists for recruitment.

Q: Can you describe the various ways researchers may utilize TriNetX?

A: The TriNetX platform has the following capabilities:

Enhanced Feasibility Assessments
Research teams can apply filters to the EHR data available in TriNetX by including or excluding certain data elements such as CPT coded diagnoses, medications, encounter types, etc. to better understand the potential number of patients who may qualify for a study based on the protocol inclusion/exclusion criteria.

Development of a Cohort of Patients for a Research Data Set
With appropriate IRB approvals in place, a research data request can be entered and the de-identified aggregate counts from TriNetX can be returned to study teams in the form of a research data set populated with data from the MUSC Research Data Warehouse (RDW).

Protocol Development
TriNetX can also be a useful tool to inform protocol development. Research teams can analyze the impact of a particular inclusion or exclusion criteria on the population of interest within TriNetX to develop a protocol with a target patient population available to support the desired sample size.

Support Identification of Participants for Recruitment
With appropriate IRB approvals in place, research teams can work with a MUSC Biomedical Informatics honest broker, via a research data request, to leverage the TriNetX query they constructed for feasibility and obtain a list of patients to contact for study recruitment purposes.

Q: What is the data source for TriNetX?

A: The MUSC Research Data Warehouse (RDW) is used to populate TriNetX with data from Epic and other MUSC systems from May 2012 to the present. The MUSC data in TriNetX is refreshed daily. When applying specific filter criteria to a query, TriNetX conveniently categorizes the data into groups allowing users the option to select a broad group of codes under bundled filter criteria. Also included in TriNetX is data from MUSC’s regional hospitals (i.e. Florence, Lancaster, Marion, and Chester), though this data only goes back to about August 2019 when the transition to Epic occurred at the regional hospitals. In addition to the research feasibility and recruitment benefits that TriNetX provides, more advanced analytic capabilities are also offered to users.

Q: Can you describe a specific use of TriNetX?

A: A TriNetX user could explore the cohort of COVID-19 patients seen at MUSC since January 2020, what medications they have been prescribed since their COVID-19 diagnosis, which MUSC clinics these patients have received care, and more.

This innovative tool will allow MUSC staff, students, and faculty to better gauge the feasibility of their research projects based on MUSC’s patient population to enhance recruitment capabilities.

Q: Is TriNetX a replacement or upgrade for an existing system or does it offer a new resource for researchers?

A: TriNetX compliments other self-service data query tools (i.e. Epic SlicerDicer and i2b2) currently available at MUSC. Offering a user-friendly interface, advanced query capabilities, and analytic tools, TriNetX enhances MUSC’s data query capabilities. The TriNetX platform is available to MUSC faculty and sponsored students and staff who may, or may not, have access to Epic’s SlicerDicer.

Q: Who are the target users for this platform?

A: Target users for this platform are MUSC faculty, students and staff interested in research. Interested users may include an investigator looking for potential patient counts to include in a grant submission or during protocol development to analyze the impact of a particular inclusion or exclusion criteria on the population of interest, a study coordinator assessing feasibility of a new research opportunity, a study team looking to enhance recruitment, or anyone including students wanting to analyze risk factors, compare treatments, and get to know the current therapy landscape for a certain disease of interest within the MUSC patient population.

Q: Who manages TriNetX?

A: SCTR’s Research Opportunities & Collaborations (ROC) team manages MUSC’s partnership with TriNetX, which also serves as a source of study opportunities when a sponsor or CRO leverages the platform to evaluate feasibility and plan strategic outreach to sites with the target patient population. ROC has been part of the super user team piloting TriNetX during self-service data feasibility and recruitment consultations with various MUSC study teams and are the point of contact for TriNetX related questions. SCTR’s Biomedical Informatics team manages the technical aspects of TriNetX including user access, data feeds, data enhancements, and honest broker services.

Q: When will TriNetX be launched?

A: The official TriNetX rollout date to the institution as a whole is July 7, 2020 in coordination with a SCTR Lunch & Learn. All MUSC faculty members will be gaining automatic single sign-on access to TriNetX (other staff will need to have a faculty member sign-off on their sponsorship form to gain access). Lunch & Learn attendees will learn how to gain TriNetX access if they are not faculty, a demonstration will be given on how to use the platform to receive feasibility counts, and users will learn how to leverage the counts for research recruitment.

Lunch & Learn Event Details

TriNetX Overview and Demonstration: Newly Available Self-Service Feasibility and Recruitment Tool

Elizabeth Szwast, MPH, SCTR Research Opportunities & Collaborations, Program Coordinator II
Amanda Cameron, MPH, CPH, CCRP, SCTR Trial Innovation Network Program Manager

Date | Time: Tuesday, July 7, 2020 | 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

Q: Are there any additional trainings planned for TriNetX?

A: ROC will be hosting several virtual training sessions for MUSC users beginning in late August 2020, including MUSC student trainings. ROC is planning to advertise TriNetX trainings across campus in various formats. Additionally, a TriNetX MyQuest training will be available and advertised during virtual trainings.

Additional Training Opportunities

August 4, 2020 Update: 

Live TriNetX Hosted Trainings- Learn from the Experts
Attendees will learn how to gain access, utilize this user-friendly query tool to obtain de-identified aggregate counts, run analyses on patient cohorts, and leverage TriNetX for research recruitment.

Register for an upcoming TriNetX training:

Basic Functionality Training
Tuesday, August 25, 2020 | 8:00 a.m. | Register
Tuesday, August 25, 2020 | 4:00 p.m. | Register
Friday, August 28, 2020 | 8:00 a.m. | Register

Data Analytics Training
Friday, August 28, 2020 | 4:00 p.m. | Register

Related Links

Research Opportunities & Collaborations Program

SCTR Lunch & Learns

About the Author

Elizabeth Szwast
Program Coordinator, Research Opportunities & Collaborations

Keywords: Research Resources