“More than ever, health researchers are being called upon to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care. In an era of constrained resources and increasingly complex problems, it is important that research efforts be coordinated for maximum impact in addressing the challenges facing our health system.”
Over the past two years, a concerted effort has been underway to develop a provincial strategy that will support greater coherence and a common understanding of priorities among BC’s health research community.
A new summary document published this month — Directions for Health Research in BC — represents the culmination of the first stage of this process.
The document provides insight into BC’s health research landscape and sets out a vision, strategic directions, and actions that are vital to establishing a strong, coherent, and effective research enterprise. It aims to create a road map for building on BC’s accomplishments over the past decade while anticipating changes to the evolving health and research landscapes.
The document outlines three strategic directions for health research in BC:
- Develop and enhance key foundations that support the creation and use of knowledge
- Create a culture of inquiry and innovation across sectors that encourages health research and its use
- Make BC a hub for world-class research that makes a difference.
These strategies and their supporting actions will reduce unnecessary duplication of services, encourage collaboration between researchers, patients, health providers, and decision-makers, and enhance BC’s ability to attract investments in health research.
From strategy to action
Progress has been made on several initiatives that will advance actions outlined in the strategy document.
In June, the provincial government announced that it is working on a data resource centre that will pull from the many existing government data sources to serve as an invaluable tool for health researchers. This centre supports one of the document’s main actions, focused on creating a common data platform for BC.
In July, BC’s business case for a provincial support unit under CIHR’s Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research was submitted for approval. Once established, the support unit will be a driver of several of the actions outlined in the provincial health research strategy.
Currently, the BC Ethics Harmonization Initiative is proceeding with plans for a harmonized ethics review model that will support elements of the strategy. Work is also underway within the BC Ministry of Health to develop an academic health sciences network that will bring research closer to patient care.
Creating the road map
The process of developing a provincial health research strategy began in April 2012 with a meeting of BC’s health research and health care leaders. At this meeting, MSFHR was endorsed to consult with the community and facilitate the strategy’s development.
A planning team led by MSFHR undertook extensive environmental scanning, supplemented by a consultation process that included regional workshops, key informant interviews, focus sessions, and an online survey.
Throughout the project, an advisory board of senior health system and health research leaders provided advice and direction to the planning team.