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About 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

  • Individual Level: reflects people and their healthcare experiences
  • Longitudinal: most healthcare records extend back to 1991
  • Full Coverage and Population Based: health records of all people who are eligible for healthcare 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

ICES Data & Ontario

The records in ICES data reflect Ontarians’ day-to-day interactions with the healthcare 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 Includes

  • 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

Examining Healthcare in Ontario

Through the Data Repository’s extensive inventory, various aspects of healthcare 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)

Data Available through Data & Analytic Services

ICES has the most comprehensive array of linked, health-related data in Ontario. 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. For more information regarding date ranges available, see the ICES Data Dictionary.

ICES uses a unique 10-digit number to identify each individual in its data sets. The same encoding 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 Sets

Core Data Sets: These data are available to all researchers interested in working with ICES DAS. Examples include the Discharge Abstract Database (DAD), National Ambulatory Care Reporting System (NACRS), Ontario Drug Benefit Claims (ODB), Ontario Health Insurance Plan Claims Database (OHIP), Registered Persons Database (RPDB), and the Ontario Cancer Registry (OCR).

Restricted data sets: These data are available for research which meets specific criteria. Researchers may be required to seek additional approvals or collaborations, and in some cases the research objectives must align with predetermined guidelines.

Data sets available through ICES DAS are limited to administrative data holdings. The ICES Data Dictionary includes a comprehensive listing of data holdings.

Researchers may also link their own externally collected research data sets to ICES data. For more information, please email or contact ICES DAS at 1-888-480-1327 (toll-free).

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Data Dictionary

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.

ICES Data Dictionary