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Next steps: pan-Canadian health data strategy

What needs to happen following the Expert Advisory Group’s final report
Data collection Data linkage Data Primary health care Public health Canada

Accurate and reliable health data has become imperative, particularly in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a growing recognition that data saves lives. Existing challenges facing Canada’s healthcare system have been exacerbated even as new ones surfaced. These present an opportunity for policy measures that result in meaningful impact particularly through leveraging the power of data.

Despite advances in technology, the needed culture shift within health care is lagging and amplified by the broader policy and governance issues throughout society. We continue to collect data in silos with minimal interaction between different systems. This report highlights key outcomes and discussion threads from a roundtable of experts who discussed next steps to build a pan-Canadian health data strategy, convened by the Public Policy Forum on 20 June 2022, following the release of the third report of the Expert Advisory Group on the Pan-Canadian Health Data Strategy. Along with four leading experts, more than 45 representatives from the healthcare sector convened to discuss what needs to happen now for a successful strategy.

Key findings:

  • Ensuring success of a pan-Canadian health data strategy is a collective action problem.
  • Current policy frameworks and approaches to data governance were designed in a pre-digital world and lack the ability to enable effective data and digital services.
  • There is no easy solution that will bring Canada’s health system into a technologically forward model that works for everyone.
  • Building health data literacy and renegotiating boundaries around when data are used should also be considered essential.
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