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ICES Data

The ICES Data Repository consists of record-level, coded and linkable health data sets. It encompasses much of the publicly funded administrative health services records for the Ontario population eligible for universal health coverage since 1986 and is capable of integrating research-specific data, registries and surveys. Currently, the repository includes health service records for as many as 13 million people.

Unique attributes of data in the repository include:

  • individual level: reflects people and their health care experiences
  • longitudinal: most health care records extend back to 1991
  • full coverage and population based: health records of all people who are eligible for health care in Ontario
  • service breadth: most publicly funded health services and some related services outside health
  • coded: direct personal identifiers, including name and health card number, are removed and replaced with a confidential code
  • linkable across all data: once linked, provide information about continuity of care
  • secure and privacy protected: approved by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario

ICES data, which support hundreds of research projects each year, provide unbiased evidence to inform health system policy, planning and evaluation.

For a list of the ICES Data Repository data sets, including detailed descriptions of individual variables and their values, access the ICES Data Dictionary.

The records in ICES data reflect Ontarians’ day-to-day interactions with the health care system. These include:

  • physician claims submitted to the Ontario Health Insurance Plan
  • medical drug claims submitted to the Ontario Drug Benefit Program
  • discharge summaries of hospital stays and emergency department visits
  • claims for home care, long-term care and more

ICES data also include:

  • special registry collections, such as the Ontario Cancer Registry (Cancer Care Ontario), the Ontario Stroke Registry (ICES collection), and the Registry of the Cardiac Care Network
  • derived chronic condition cohorts developed at ICES using linked data algorithms
  • data reflecting individuals’ characteristics, such as immigration status or primary care group enrolment
  • linked and unlinked data from major surveys, such as the Canadian Community Health Survey
  • detailed clinical data extracted from electronic medical records or through ICES primary data collection projects
  • population and demographic data used to characterize study subjects, determine rates of various conditions, infer ecological variables, and characterize deaths
  • supporting data on care providers, health institutions, and diagnostic and procedure codes

Through the Data Repository’s extensive inventory, various aspects of health care in Ontario can be examined, including:

  • groups of people with particular health conditions (e.g., diabetes or cancer)
  • groups of people who have had similar health services experiences (e.g., hip or knee surgery)
  • health system performance (e.g., surgery wait times or continuity of care)
  • patient outcomes (e.g., length of hospital stay, number of emergency department visits or mortality rate)
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