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Information for Private Sector Researchers

The ICES board of directors and management team are committed to enhancing data accessibility to support new discoveries. Since June 2016, ICES DAS has been providing analytic services to researchers in the private sector. The following factors prompted ICES to extend DAS to the private sector:

  • ICES recognized a need to align with the Government of Ontario’s Open Data initiative and other national and international efforts aimed at increasing access to public data holdings to maximize their impact on the health care system and the economy.
  • ICES’ data platform creates knowledge that informs public sector health care investments. Similarly, it has the potential to create knowledge that informs the approximately 30% of health care expenditures that are funded by the private sector.
  • ICES is building on the experience of similar organizations in Canada and internationally who have provided services to the private sector.

The following principles guide DAS in its work with the private sector:

  • Alignment with ICES’ mission, vision and values – DAS private sector work must provide a public benefit.
  • Transparency – Full-results reports, the identities of private sector organizations that use DAS analytic services, and data set creation plans will all be publicly available.
  • Financial viability – Private sector work must be in addition to, and in no way detract from, ICES research institute work.

Services available to private sector researchers

ICES is currently offering analytic services (for research) to private sector researchers. DAS staff and scientists will perform the analyses that generate the report, according to specifications provided by the private sector researcher. The requestor will receive results reports that include summary data (e.g., the number of people with a particular medical condition in Ontario in a specific time period, or the number of hospitalizations associated with that condition). In line with ICES’ policies and its status as an independent organization, ICES scientists are prohibited from receiving industry funding for projects using ICES data.

Access to individual-level data is currently not available to private sector researchers.

Find out more about analytic services and reports.

Data available for private sector studies

ICES uses a unique 10-digit number to identify each individual in its data sets. The same encryption algorithm is used for all ICES data sets; this enables information to be linked from one data set to another and makes it possible to track an individual’s trajectory of care through the health system over time. Data availability and update frequency are subject to data sharing agreements made with the data custodians. Lag time varies depending on the data holding; for example, some data sets are updated as often as biweekly, others between one to two years.

Data sets available through ICES DAS include:

  • Hospital Discharge Abstract Database (DAD)
  • National Ambulatory Care Reporting System (NACRS)
  • Continuing Care Reporting System (CCRS)
  • Ontario Drug Benefit Claims (ODB)
  • Ontario Health Insurance Plan Claims Database (OHIP)
  • Registered Persons Database (RPDB)
  • Ontario Cancer Registry (OCR)

Visit the ICES Data Dictionary for a comprehensive listing of data holdings available.

In addition, researchers may also link their own externally collected research data sets to ICES data.

Costs

Costs of services will depend on the complexity of the request. ICES DAS staff are available to discuss potential costs of data and analytic services.

As an example, a typical research study looking at health services use and costs for a cohort of patients will generally range between $70,000 and $100,000.

Projects involving importation of externally collected data for linkage to ICES data will incur additional costs.

Timeline

The time required to complete a study will depend on the complexity of the request. In general, a project can be assessed and its feasibility determined in less than one week. ICES DAS staff will provide more detailed timelines as they relate to particular requests.

As an example, a typical research study looking at health services utilization and costs among a cohort of patients will take three to six months to complete.

Submitting a request

Interested private sector organizations or researchers with funding from the private sector are invited to submit the ICES DAS Private Sector Analytics Services Request Form.

For help completing the request form, see the DAS Private Sector Analytic Services Information Sheet.

For further assistance, please email or contact ICES DAS at 416-480-4092 (in Toronto) or 1-844-848-9855 (toll-free internationally).

Frequently asked questions about private sector research

What kinds of private sector studies will DAS support?

What are examples of private sector studies that DAS analytic services might support?

What is an example of a private sector study that DAS would not support?

How will the transparency principle be operationalized?

Why aren’t private sector researchers offered the full range of DAS services, including access to data? Will this change in the future?

When a private sector researcher requests DAS analytic services, who decides what the research question and study design will be?

What if a private sector organization lacks the expertise to design studies?

Does the decision to provide DAS analytic services to the private sector mean that ICES scientists will start working with private sector organizations?

Will ICES representatives be co-authors on publications?

Will I need to sign an agreement?

For more information, see the DAS Frequently Asked Questions.

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