“Innovation in health care depends on responsible, expanded data access for AI researchers.”

Garth Gibson, President & CEO, Vector Institute, in his op-ed for The Globe and Mail highlighted the importance of data governance and access to enable innovation and research in healthcare. St. Michael’s Hospital of Unity Health Toronto is described as using machine learning (ML) to predict peaks in ER admissions based on existing in-house health data with 95% accuracy.  The article highlights the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and ML technologies to create patient centric solutions that improve care, reduce wait times and costs.  Although this would not have been possible without access to the data and ML expertise to analyse their records, Gibson stressed the need for a health-data governance framework that capitalizes on existing data, increases data integration and collection, while ensuring all ethical principles for data access and sharing are maintained.

Ontario, with its Digital First for Health strategy, is focusing on improving patient care by harnessing the capabilities of digital health innovators within the ecosystem. By creating more connected tools, increasing data access for patients and innovators alike, while maintaining privacy and security for individual data, the government aims to create a better way of life for all Ontarians.

To help tackle this challenge and identify essential elements of a data governance model, the Vector Institute and the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) met with other health-data stakeholders such as  Compute Ontario, ICES, HPC4Health, Sunnybrook Research Institute, MaRS, Population Data BC, and the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health to bring together expertise from across the ecosystem. As highlighted in the op-ed, the following requirements emerged from the meeting:

  • Need to maintain ethical principles around data access
  • Data management and governance that stresses on clear processes the collection, storage and use of health data
  • Creating training and accountability measures for those accessing the said data
  • Continued stakeholder and public engagement to ensure the system is created to benefit citizens.

To learn more, you can read the op-ed here.