It is an exciting time for health research in British Columbia. Thanks to a collaborative effort on the part of many organizations, BC is laying the foundation for a strong, vibrant health research environment that will use research to address priority health challenges and improve the health of British Columbians.
Directions for Health Research in BC is one of those initiatives. Facilitated by the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research and developed with input from researchers, health-care providers, decision makers and patient representatives from across the province, the goal of the strategy is to support greater coherence and a common understanding of priorities among BC’s health research community.
Actions recommended in the health research strategy are at varying stages of progress, but work is happening in coordination and with recognition of the interdependencies of the various pieces. For example, a key action in the strategy references work to establish an academic health sciences network (AHSN), underway by the BC Ministry of Health as part of the implementation of Setting Priorities for the B.C. Health System. The AHSN will drive effective teaching, placements, and applied health research that will promote and encourage improved quality and innovation linked to identified health care and service needs.
Closely aligned with the AHSN is the BC SUPPORT Unit, a multi-partner provincial unit to support patient-oriented research that is part of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research. An interim team is working on the start-up of the Unit, whose work will also drive additional actions identified in the health research strategy, including patient engagement in health research and building capacity to share and use research evidence. More information on the BC SUPPORT Unit can be found at www.bcsupportunit.ca