Ontario houses a large number of highly valuable health databases used for research, patient care and health system planning. Every time an Ontarian makes a visit to the doctor and with the launch of every new patient-oriented research study, the richness and magnitude of this asset grows. While these databases continue to evolve in isolation from one-another, there is a developing need for patient information from across the research and care continuum to be linked in order to inform better policy decision making, higher quality healthcare or more patient-focused research.
With support from the Data for Health Advisory Group and the OPMN, Ontario Genomics has released the Call for an Ontario Health Data Ecosystem report to investigate affordable and feasible mechanisms for Ontario to remain competitive with global benchmarks in the emerging age of data-driven medicine and research. This paper’s ultimate recommendation is a call for an enabling mechanism–the formation of a health data coalition. This coalition would consist of leading organizations across the research and clinical data continuum, as well as the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science and Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, with the aim to develop some foundational data sharing policies to facilitate the exchange of data assets. This model is anticipated to not only enhance the objectives of participating institutions, but also to catalyze the emergence of a more interconnected health data ecosystem where Ontario and individual Ontarians can reap the everyday benefits of access to health information. The release of this paper serves as a primer for the formation of this coalition.