The Ontario government announced the creation of the Ontario Health Data Platform to better detect, plan and respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The data will be gathered from a range of databases and be integrated on a secure platform, so researchers can analyze and gain insights to help with understanding and combatting COVID-19. Researchers will help with:
- Understanding the disease
- Case testing and surveillance
- Disease management
- Health equity and vulnerable populations
- Public health measures
- Infection, prevention and control in specific settings
- Frontline workers
- Supply chain
- Data analytics, modeling and measurement
The Ontario Health Data Platform will provide access to integrated available health data, that complies with all applicable privacy laws and policies as well as best-practice security standards. There has been consultation with the Ontario Privacy Commissioner and other privacy experts in Ontario. The data on the platform include:
- Physician claims submitted to the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP)
- Medical drug claims submitted to the Ontario Drug Benefit Program
- Discharge summaries of hospital stays and emergency department visits
- Claims for home care and long-term care
- Clinical data from special registry collections such as Critical Care Information System (CCIS)
- Clinical data extracted from public health, hospitals, laboratory and diagnostic imaging information systems.
Other supporting data will be added based on criteria set by Ontario's Ministry of Health (MOH) to meet the needs of researchers to achieve the platform’s objectives.
Trends, risks, discoveries, predictions and insights will be shared with Ontario's Ministry of Health and health system planners within Ministries or organizations assisting the government of Ontario in responding to COVID-19. The findings will assist in pandemic response and planning. In addition, researchers will gain insights regarding the testing and response capacity of the health system. The knowledge generated from the platform that will better equip the public, policymakers, and health system planners in Ontario’s collective fight against COVID-19.
The Office of Chief Medical Officer of Health, Public Health is currently working with the Anti-Racism Directorate, Indigenous Affairs, Public Health Ontario, Legal Services, Planning and French Language Services and the MOH Strategic Policy branch as well as community partners representing racialized communities. They are working together to create processes and structures that strive to support vulnerable populations in the context of COVID-19 and related impacts.
An initial set of research projects are being launched mid-Sept 2020. Later this summer, additional research projects will be underway. By early this fall, we expect data scientists to start identifying patterns in the data and to help make more reliable predictions of how the virus is spreading and about risks to vulnerable people.
Based on current analysis by the province’s public health and academic experts, the pandemic may last another 18-24 months and will require ongoing monitoring. The Ontario Health Data Platform will provide insights that will help all the people of Ontario by increasing the detection of COVID-19, discovering risk factors for vulnerable populations and predicting when and where outbreaks may occur. The platform and the analyses that will be produced will also assist in evaluating how preventative and treatment measures are working.
The Ministry of Health selected experts to work on four significant areas of the platform – data governance, technology, cybersecurity, and health data management. Public sector organizations with extensive experience in working collaboratively in these areas, such as the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Ontario Health- Cancer Care Ontario, Vector Institute, InDoc Research, Queen’s University, and the University of Toronto, among others, were selected for this project.
What are Challenge Questions and how does this initiative fit into the Ontario Health Data Platform (OHDP)?
The COVID-19 Challenge Questions Initiative has been established by Ontario's Ministry of Health to help ensure that researchers accessing the Ontario Health Data Platform (OHDP) address high priority COVID-19 research questions that are responsive to the needs of government. The objective of the initiative is to accelerate the generation and translation of research and data analytic insights into action responsive to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Challenge Questions Initiative is open to researchers across Ontario, including those not using the OHDP.
Challenge questions are complex questions that are responsive to the needs of government, organized as a subset of the COVID-19 Health Research Priorities Framework. The initiative serves as a call to action for collaboration across machine learning and the wider health research community. It will be based on an integrated knowledge translation (iKT) approach, and challenges researchers to answer complex questions with actionable solutions.
Research areas and Challenge Questions have been developed through discussions with key Ministry COVID-19 advisory committees and with practitioners, researchers, data experts, policy knowledge users, and patients/family advisors.
Date modified: 2020-09-22