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Health data platform will transform research in Saskatchewan

Illustration of a computer screen. Logos for Health Research Data Platform Saskatchewan and Health Data Research Network Canada are at bottom.

Health Research Data Platform – Saskatchewan (HRDP-SK) has approved its first data access requests, marking a leap forward for health research in that province. Funded by HDRN Canada and the Saskatchewan Centre for Patient-Oriented Research (SCPOR), it is the only platform in Saskatchewan to integrate health data from multiple agencies. HRDP-SK’s secure, cloud-based environment enables secondary data users – those who use previously collected data for a new purpose, such as research – to access health data, which are de-identified to ensure privacy and confidentiality.

“HRDP-SK advancements are instrumental in improving health data access here in Saskatchewan,” said Christina Weise, HDRN Canada Board member and SCPOR Executive Director. “Several time-consuming steps have been eliminated and researchers can now access more databases more efficiently.” Having a data access centre will better align Saskatchewan with other provinces, Weise added, helping to ensure that Saskatchewan data are represented in research.

Using HRDP-SK, researchers in Saskatchewan can access health system data that are already being collected — a clear advantage according to Dr. Derek Jorgenson, a Professor in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Saskatchewan. Dr. Jorgenson, who is the Principal Investigator of the project, An Interprofessional Model for Chronic Pain Management, was recently approved to access data through HRDP-SK. “This opens the door to incredible opportunities to identify health system problems sooner and better measure the impact of the solutions to those problems,” he said.

There is another benefit, pointed out Dr. Kim McGrail, HDRN Canada Scientific Director and CEO: “Researcher access to data through HRDP-SK is an important step forward for health research and innovation to address our health system challenges, in no small part because this will enable the province to be part of multi-regional studies in Canada.”

As a member of HDRN Canada, HRDP-SK joins other data centres across Canada in a pan-Canadian project to support researcher access to multi-regional health data via the Data Access Support Hub (DASH). HDRN Canada’s DASH facilitates access to routinely collected administrative and other linkable data from multiple provinces or territories. It serves as a single intake point for researchers, confirming the eligibility and feasibility of data requests, offering cost estimates, and providing centralized data access support from study conceptualization through to data delivery.

The DASH Team played a significant role in the initial development of HRDP-SK. “Partnering with HDRN Canada was invaluable to developing Saskatchewan’s provincial data access infrastructure for research,” explained Malori Keller, HDRN Canada-Saskatchewan Lead. “Being part of a national network of data centres was especially beneficial because it gave us access to a rich reservoir of templates, examples, frameworks, and experiences for us to learn from.”

Researchers can now request data via the HRDP-SK website, and additional data integration work is underway to increase the number of databases available. 

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