Gateway Gazette

Improving Access to Health Data in Alberta

The Government of Alberta is seeking a vendor to help design a world-class health data warehouse and strategy to drive research and innovation for health-system improvement.

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The project will strengthen health analytics and set the vision for a “data access safe haven.” The safe haven will store valuable provincial health and non-health data in a secure environment that will safeguard and protect personal information.

“Alberta is joining other leading jurisdictions by developing a data-sharing environment and process with real-world applications. Improving access to data in a safe, secure and strategic way with government partners, academics and health organizations will mean we can drive investment and cutting-edge research and development to help improve health outcomes.”Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

The province will leverage its existing data warehouse to grant safe access to select health organizations, some Alberta government ministries, researchers, and data analysts so they can use this rich bank of information to improve Alberta’s health system and other government services and programs. The data of Alberta citizens will not be for sale.

Interested vendors have one month to submit their proposals.

“The Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary is driven to create the future of health. Our Centre for Health Informatics is a brilliant example, accelerating our effort to harness the power of data to innovate since opening in 2018. When health researchers, clinicians and educators are able to leverage data, they’re better able to detect disease, personalize interventions and improve health. We look forward to continued collaboration in data management with Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services, and the many other partners that will be required to ensure world-class technology solutions are working together to make lives better for Albertans.”Dr. Jon Meddings, dean, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary

“We are very excited at the prospect of an enhanced data storage system and accompanying strategy for our province. A major strength in Alberta is access our researchers have to valuable health data, allowing them to conduct high-quality medical research that advances the health outcomes of Albertans. The improved access provided by a digital data warehouse of this kind will further strengthen Alberta’s reputation as a leading academic research hub in Canada and globally.”Dr. Brenda Hemmelgarn, dean, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta

The government is also open to private-sector partners who want to invest in research that can transform front-line care and lead to better health outcomes and quality of life for patients and Albertans.

“OKAKI has worked closely with Alberta Health, First Nations, universities, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta and others to use data to strengthen public health. This work has helped raise immunization rates, improve outcomes for patients with diabetes and reduce inappropriate opioid prescribing. Alberta has some of the richest health data in Canada, and harnessing the potential of that data will unleash innovation at home. If Alberta companies like ours could appropriately access this data to develop technology and applications, while ensuring patient privacy, we could continue to do better for Albertans, enhance our competitiveness and create more high-quality jobs of the future.”Dr. Salim Samanani, CEO and Medical Director, OKAKI Health Intelligence Inc.

Government aims to have the new data warehouse ready for its first users in fall 2020.

Quick facts

  • Alberta Health will lead, govern and manage the new data safe haven, using clear controls and agreements to protect the privacy of individuals.
  • Alberta Health holds up to 35 years of health data for Albertans.
  • Other provincial ministries will be able to access data to develop strong policy and align work across government.
  • The academic sector, as well as organizations such as Alberta Health Services, the Alberta Medical Association and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, will be granted secure access to the data.

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