Lab Canada

Ontario university gains research access to population-based health data

Kingston, ON – Ontario’s first satellite unit of the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) has been opened at Queen’s University.

“The creation of this facility opens up unprecedented opportunities for our researchers to undertake population-based health services research and to collaborate with like-minded scientists provincially, nationally and internationally,” says David Walker, dean of health sciences at the university.

An independent, non-profit organization, ICES conducts research aimed at improving health care and health services across Ontario. It will provide data access to health services research scientists, and encourage collaborations with the larger ICES scientific community. Over the next few years, this initiative is expected to expand to other medical schools in the province.

Areas of focus at Queen’s will include cancer, pharmacological studies and dementia.

Key to the knowledge produced at ICES is the ability to anonymously link population-based health information on an individual patient basis, using unique ICES identifiers that ensure the privacy and confidentiality of health information. Linked data allows researchers to obtain a more comprehensive view of specific health care issues, than could be achieved with unlinked data.

“Privacy officers are important to make sure health services data remains private,” says Patti Groome, site director of the ICES-Queen’s Health Services Research Facility. “Queen’s has the infrastructure and wherewithal to support this type of undertaking.”