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‘Profound’ possibilities

Is your MCP number a link to improved health-care evaluation?


By Heidi Wicks

Did you know your MCP card and its associated data can contribute to a more efficient, less costly health-care system in Newfoundland and Labrador?

Research linked to citizens’ personal health records in other Canadian provinces has led to stunning realizations about the quality of patient care and the efficient use of health-care dollars.

As part of the School of Pharmacy’s second annual Research Innovation Day, Dr. Mohsen Sadatsafavi, University of British Columbia, will give the plenary talk about his Respiratory Evaluation Sciences Program (RESP) on March 23.

Best value

The program taps into population-based health databases of British Columbia to provide evidence on how safe and effective a patient’s medication regime is and whether it provides the best health value for the money.

“A lot of research is conducted through randomized clinical trials, which do provide the highest quality of evidence on treatment efficacy but in a highly controlled environment with artificial conditions,” Dr. Sadatsafavi explained. “Whether that effect of treatment will also be observed when the treatment is implemented is a source of concern.

“Only people who are carefully screened receive the treatment under investigation and the researcher(s) then determine whether the treatment is useful. What’s unique about research using administrative health databases is that it allows us to track patients for a long time—through anonymized records—based on their exposure to the intervention, what happens to them following their diagnosis and through their treatment. It’s real-world research using real people.”

Evaluating quality and cost-effectiveness

Dr. Sadatsafavi is one of the few trained health economists in Canada whose career is dedicated to chronic respiratory diseases.

“My program includes not just utilization and safety/effectiveness studies, but also incorporates a health economics platform that translates the evidence into policy-relevant messages such as whether the health technology (drug) provides good value for the money.”

Similar opportunities possible in N.L.

Preliminary studies have already begun in this area in this province.

Dr. J.M. Gamble, assistant professor, is working with the Translational and Personalized Medicine Initiative (TPMI), a five-year health-care initiative that provides enhanced, personalized patient care through collaborative, multidisciplinary research.

“The Newfoundland and Labrador administrative databases have been relatively untapped for answering questions regarding health-care efficiency and outcomes,” he said. “These databases are a rich source of information for assessing the costs and consequences of various health-care interventions and health policies.”

Dr. Carlo Marra, dean, School of Pharmacy, is encouraging all researchers who are interested in exploring this field to attend the plenary session.

“These kind of data exists here in Newfoundland and Labrador, it’s just less mature than in a few other provinces,” he said. “The possibilities for this area are profound, especially in this province where chronic illnesses such as arthritis and diabetes are so prevalent. A large portion of our population here is aging and on many medications, so this kind of research can make a huge impact and inform us on how we can do things more efficiently and at a lower cost.”

The Plenary Session takes place on Wednesday, March 23, from 12-1 p.m. in the main auditorium of the Health Sciences Centre in St. John’s.

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