Canada takes step forward in building its capacity to respond to health challenges
Kim McGrail, a professor in the faculty of medicine at UBC, is the scientific director of a new data platform that will make it easier for researchers to access and analyze health research data.
McGrail will lead the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) Canadian Data Platform, alongside a team made up of representatives from across the country.
The SPOR Canadian Data Platform is a seven-year, $81.35M investment with contributions from several partners. This initiative is a single portal through which researchers will be able to request access to a multitude of administrative, clinical and social data from various sources from across the country.
“Our pan-Canadian team has been working for almost five years to create a vision, and we are thrilled that the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and our partners are providing funding to make that vision a reality,” said McGrail.
Until now, accessing and using multi-jurisdictional data has been a challenge because of differences in the requirements for requesting and accessing data and in the data itself. The new data platform will help foster an environment where researchers can address questions that cross boundaries and more easily build on the work of their peers, leading to the kinds of advances that improve our health and strengthen our health care system.
“The opportunity to create a SPOR Canadian Data Platform is a game changer for Canada,” McGrail said. “Data are as fundamental to research and improvement as the internet is to communications.”
She said patients, the public, communities, Indigenous people, policy-makers and government will all be involved in shaping the team’s work over the next seven years.
Data are as fundamental to research and improvement as the internet is to communications.
Dr. Kim McGrail
Scientific Director, Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) Canadian Data Platform
The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, announced the new $81M to support the SPOR platform at UBC on April 23, 2019.
“There are few tools more powerful than data,” said Petitpas. “With data, we can begin to address some of the big health and social challenges facing our country. We can better understand the nature of a problem, find its causes and figure out how to fix it.”
Professor Santa J. Ono, president and vice-chancellor of UBC, agrees.
“The University of British Columbia is grateful for this generous support from the federal government and partners across Canada,” states Ono in a related news release. “The Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research Canadian Data Platform will empower our researchers to work with data from all parts of Canada, helping build strong collaborations that have the potential to make important advances in health care research.”
- The Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research Canadian Data Platform is a seven-year, $81.35M investment with contributions from several partners, including:
- The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
- The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care/Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences
- Population Data BC
- The Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI)
- The Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information
- The University of British Columbia
- The Canadian Data Platform is made possible through SPOR, a series of funding partnerships between CIHR, provinces and territories, philanthropic organization, academic institutions, and health charities. SPOR is about providing the evidence needed to inform the development of health policies and improve the health care system for patients.