In February 2007, the Health Council of Canada, in its third annual report, emphasized the need for pan-Canadian data on our health care system. To date, no studies have examined the strengths and weaknesses of emergency health services (EHS) administrative databases, as perceived by researchers. The authors undertook a qualitative study to determine, from a researcher's perspective, the strengths and weaknesses of EHS administrative databases. The study also elicited researchers' suggestions to improve these databases.
The authors conducted taped interviews with four Canadian health services researchers. The transcriptions were subsequently examined for common concepts, which were finalized after discussion with all the investigators.
Five common themes emerged from the interviews: clinical detail, data quality, data linkage, data use and population coverage. Data use and data linkages were considered strengths. Clinical detail, data quality and population coverage were considered weaknesses.
The five themes that emerged from this study all serve to reinforce the call from the Health Council of Canada for national data on emergency services, which could be readily captured through a national EHS administrative database. The investigators feel that key stakeholders involved in emergency services across Canada should work together to develop a strategy to implement an accurate, clinically detailed, integrated and comprehensive national EHS database.