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Key hospitals and universities partner up to study Ontario’s healthcare system


Leading university and hospital-based scientists in Ottawa, Kingston and Toronto have joined with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) to partner on research dedicated to addressing some of the most complex and challenging issues affecting healthcare in Ontario.

This union of Ontario’s brightest minds will create North America’s largest health services research organization. “No other province is looking at how healthcare is delivered as closely as Ontario”, notes Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, assistant deputy minister, Health System Strategy Division of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC), “bringing together our top researchers will help us ensure we are delivering the best care and getting the best results for patients. While medical research provides us with new patient-based treatments, health services research determines if these treatments are being put to the best possible use in making our healthcare system more effective.” Dr. Brian Golden, chair of the ICES Board adds, “the partners coming together – the Ottawa Health Research Institute, Queen’s University, The University of Toronto, The Hospital for Sick Children, Women’s College Hospital and the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, creates a unique opportunity to collaborate and work with like-minded scientists, nationally and internationally. Information is a particular resource and the more we share it the better it is, that’s why we are doing this.”

“By supporting this expanding network, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is making the most of its investment in research,” says the CEO of ICES, Dr. David Henry. “Rather than competing with each other, the centres have come into this collaboration with dollars, a business plan, and a common purpose — to improve the science behind the delivery of healthcare in Ontario." ICES tracks the healthcare data of Ontario’s 12 million residents. Every time a patient visits a doctor or uses their healthcare card the information is recorded, but the patient’s name remains anonymous to protect individual privacy. The records can then be analyzed to study specific ailments like heart disease, variation in rates of diabetes across Toronto, how to improve care of children with asthma, which drugs for diabetes are safest, or which type of stents (tubes to prevent arteries from blocking) work best in people after a heart attack. Having data linked to real patients allows researchers to obtain a more comprehensive view of specific healthcare issues.

Supported by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, ICES scientists could only access Ontario health data from the ICES location on the campus of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. Now, ICES data is going to the scientists by using ultra-secure, high-speed communications technology, potentially doubling the amount of high quality research being conducted in the province over the next five to ten years. The new data access facilities in Ottawa, Kingston and the University of Toronto campus will maintain the same security and confidentiality safeguards as ICES to ensure health information entrusted to them remains private. ICES has experienced no security breaches in its entire 16 years of operation.

ICES is an independent, non-profit organization that uses population-based health information to produce knowledge on a broad range of healthcare issues. Our unbiased evidence provides measures of health system performance, a clearer understanding of the shifting healthcare needs of Ontarians, and a stimulus for discussion of practical solutions to optimize scarce resources. ICES knowledge is highly regarded in Canada and abroad, and is widely used by government, hospitals, planners, and practitioners to make decisions about care delivery and to develop policy.



Contributing ICES Scientists

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