Introducing Health Data Research Network Canada (HDRN Canada): A New Organization to Advance Canadian And International Population Data Science

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Kimberlyn McGrail
Brent Diverty
Lisa Lix


Notwithstanding Canada’s exceptional longitudinal health data and research centres with extensive experience transforming data into knowledge, many Canadian studies based on linked administrative data have focused on a single province or territory. Health Data Research Network Canada (HDRN Canada), a new not-for-profit corporation, will bring together major national, provincial and territorial health data stewards from across Canada. HDRN Canada’s first initiative is the $81 million SPOR Canadian Data Platform funded under the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR).

Objectives and Approach
HDRN Canada is a distributed network through which individual data-holding centres work together to (i) create a single portal and support system for researchers requesting multi-jurisdictional data, (ii) harmonize and validate case definitions and key analytic variables across jurisdictions, (iii) expand the sources and types of data linkages, (iv) develop technological infrastructure to improve data access and collection, (v) create supports for advanced analytics and (vi) establish strong partnerships with patients, the public and with Indigenous communities. We will share our experiences and gather international feedback on our network and its goals from symposium participants.

In January 2020, HDRN Canada launched its Data Access Support Hub (DASH) which includes an inventory listing over 380 datasets, information about more than 120 algorithms and a repository of requirements and processes for accessing data. HDRN Canada is receiving requests for multi-province research studies that would be challenging to conduct without HDRN Canada.

Conclusion / Implications
Thus far, HDRN Canada services and tools have been developed primarily for Canadian researchers but HDRN Canada can also serve as a prompt for an international discussion about what has/has not worked in terms of multi-jurisdictional research data infrastructure. It can also present an opportunity for the development of metadata, standards and common approaches that support more multi-country research.

Article Details

How to Cite
McGrail, K., Diverty, B. and Lix, L. (2020) “Introducing Health Data Research Network Canada (HDRN Canada): A New Organization to Advance Canadian And International Population Data Science”, International Journal of Population Data Science, 5(5). doi: 10.23889/ijpds.v5i5.1493.

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