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News

// July 29, 2014

Connections is MSFHR's monthly e-newsletter. Each issue highlights the top MSFHR news from the past month and showcases the impact of research we've funded.

Join our mailing list to receive Connections by e-mail!


In this issue:

Feature

MSFHR News

Spark


MSFHR announces 2014 scholar award recipients

Thirty-two exceptional BC health researchers have been named recipients of scholar awards through MSFHR's 2014 Scholar Program funding competition.

The award recipients, selected from a highly competitive pool of more than 120 applicants, represent a bright future for health research in BC. Their innovative projects span a broad range of disciplines and will help to address important health challenges for the benefit of all British Columbians.

With a maximum term of five years, MSFHR Scholar Awards help British Columbia create and sustain a base of excellence that fosters world-class research across the health spectrum.

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Scholar award partners support research innovation

Three of this year's MSFHR Scholar Awards are jointly funded in partnership with BC-based not-for-profit organizations. The BC Schizophrenia Society Foundation and the Rick Hansen Institute have partnered with MSFHR to support high-quality research that is directly relevant to these organizations' mandates.

The recipients of partnered scholar awards in the 2014 competition are:

  • Leigh Anne Swayne (MSFHR/BC Schizophrenia Society Foundation Partner Scholar Award)
  • John Kramer (RHI/ICORD/MSFHR Partner Scholar Award)
  • Christopher West (MSFHR/RHI Partner Scholar Award)

The 2014 competition represents the second time MSFHR has partnered on scholar awards. A complete list of our scholar and trainee partners is available on our website.

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New infographic shows impact of MSFHR Scholar Awards

A recent MSFHR analysis has confirmed the significant value of scholar awards to individual research careers and to the strength of BC's health research enterprise.

With the generous support of a large cohort of past and current scholars, MSFHR analyzed CV data from 79 percent of individuals funded since 2001.

Highlights of this analysis are available in a new brochure that demonstrates the exceptional nature of the individuals and work supported by MSFHR funding.

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Understanding the peer-review process

Peer-review is a cornerstone of MSFHR's Scholar Awards and other funding programs. This mechanism ensures the research we support meets the highest scientific and academic standards. It also maintains our accountability to the provincial government and to British Columbia's health research community.

But what actually happens between the application deadline and the announcement of funding decisions? To demonstrate the excellent work of MSFHR's dedicated Programs staff, we have prepared a brief overview of the peer-review process.

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SPOR business plan submitted to CIHR

A business plan outlining the vision and model for BC's SPOR Support Unit has been submitted to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) for review.

The plan, which was formally approved by the project's Interim Governing Council in June, represents the foundation of a unit that will transform BC's health system through research by engaging patients as key members of a new partnership that includes decision-makers, health care providers, and researchers.

CIHR will conduct an iterative review of the business plan, consisting of internal and external evaluation. More information will be posted to the BC Support Unit website as it becomes available.

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2014 HSPRSN Partnership Awards launched

MSFHR is pleased to announce the launch of the 2014 Health Services & Policy Research Support Network (HSPRSN) Partnership Program.

These awards, offered annually since 2005, support BC researchers in applying to peer-reviewed national or international competitions that require matching funds as a condition of award. Successful applicants will receive up to $80,000 per project to investigate issues that address provincial health system priorities.

Currently, MSFHR has a partnership agreement with CIHR's Partnerships for Health System Improvement (PHSI) Program; however, other competitions requiring matching funds that are launched in 2014 will be considered as well.

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Nominations open for 2014 Aubrey J. Tingle Prize

Nominations are now open for the fifth annual Aubrey J. Tingle Prize and Lecture.

This prize, created in honour of MSFHR’s founding president & CEO, recognizes a BC health researcher whose work has had significant impact on advancing clinical or health services and policy research. The prize is valued at $10,000, and the winner will be invited to present at an MSFHR event scheduled in early 2015.

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Career opportunities

MSFHR is currently recruiting for the following position:

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Stronger public voice will improve impact and quality in health research

According to CIHR, fewer than 60 percent of decisions on general medical services are supported by appropriate research evidence, and up to 25 percent of patients get care that is not needed or could be harmful. Can the public — as patients, taxpayers or citizens — help change these statistics?

A new blog post by Bev Holmes, MSFHR vice-president, research & impact, examines the important role the public can play in health research and describes how the SPOR initiative is working to make this a reality.

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// July 17, 2014

A recent MSFHR analysis has confirmed the significant value of scholar awards and other funding programs to individual research careers and to the strength of BC’s health research enterprise.

With the generous support of a large cohort of past and current scholars, MSFHR analyzed CV data from 79 percent of individuals funded since 2001.

Highlights of this analysis are available in a new infographic that demonstrates the exceptional nature of the individuals and work supported by MSFHR funding.

Among the key findings:

  • 94% of MSFHR-funded scholars remain in BC as health research leaders
  • More than $1.1 billion in additional health research funding has been attracted to BC by scholar award recipients - more than 10 times MSFHR's investment of $117M
  • MSFHR-funded scholars exceed BC and Canadian quality benchmarks for impact factor and number of citations
  • 55% of MSFHR-funded scholars have achieved the level of full professor within five years of completing their scholar award

Supplementing this analysis of scholar awards, a companion document provides a visual overview of the full scope of MSFHR funding programs, including trainee awards, infrastructure projects, and government priorities.

Downloads

> MSFHR Scholar Impact (PDF)
> MSFHR Research Impact, 2001-2013 (PDF)


// July 16, 2014

Peer review is a cornerstone of MSFHR’s Scholar awards and other funding programs.

This mechanism ensures the research we support meets the highest scientific and academic standards. It also maintains our accountability to the provincial government and to British Columbia’s health research community.

But what actually happens between the application deadline and the announcement of funding decisions? To demonstrate the excellent work of MSFHR’s dedicated Programs staff, we have prepared a brief overview of the peer-review process.


How are reviewers selected?

The recruitment of review panel members and external readers is a huge undertaking.

Immediately after the competition’s letter-of-intent deadline, MSFHR programs staff create a pivot table of keywords submitted with applications and analyze which terms appear most often. Those keywords that are consistently repeated must be represented by subject matter experts on the appropriate review panel.

Two types of reviewers must be recruited:

Review panel members

These reviewers are selected for their research excellence, breadth of knowledge, and maturity of judgment. They provide a critical assessment of the application, participate in rating applications, and vote during the peer-review panel meeting. Each application is reviewed in depth by two lead reviewers.

Key facts:

  • Review panels correspond to CIHR's four research pillars (biomedical, clinical, health services, population health)
  • Recruitment of committee members can take up to 2-3 weeks
  • Review panels consist of 50% BC researchers and 50% from outside BC but within Canada

External readers

These reviewers are subject matter experts whose research corresponds exactly to the content of a particular award application. Each external reader is assigned only one application to review. They provide constructive feedback on the research approach, as well as the project's originality and potential impact. Panel members refer to the external reader reports when evaluating applications.

Key facts:

  • Recruitment of external readers for a competition can take up to 4-5 weeks
  • It can be necessary to contact 20-25 researchers to secure one external reviewer

What happens at the review panel meeting?

  • Panel members in conflict with an application leave the room for the duration of the review panel’s discussion of that application.
  • The two lead reviewers for each application summarize its strengths and weaknesses with their initial scores displayed to the rest of the review panel.
  • The committee chair leads the panel discussion, inviting feedback from all members.
  • Based on the panel’s discussion, the lead reviewers are given the opportunity to revise their initial scores.
  • The panel's scientific officer reads out notes summarizing the discussion that took place and the recommendations of panel members.
  • The lead reviewers agree on a consensus score. To ensure consistency, a common scale is used, ranging from 0 to 4.9. Panel members are encouraged to use the full range of scores.
  • All panel members, including the lead reviewers, confidentially score each application within +/- 0.5 points of the consensus score.
  • MSFHR’s Programs team produces a list of the applications in ranked order. A ranked list, with the identity of each applicant masked, is presented to the review panel for a final review.
  • Funding decisions are based on this ranked list, with the funding cut-off varying from one competition to another.

What are the principles governing peer review?

  • Confidentiality
    All information contained in applications submitted to MSFHR, reports made by reviewers, and review panel discussion is strictly confidential and subject to the BC Personal Information Protection Act.
  • Impartiality
    All reviewers must read and agree to abide by MSFHR’s guidelines on conflict of interest prior to viewing any application information.
  • Parity
    Reviewers are expected to be fair and reasonable, to exercise meticulous scientific judgment, and to understand and take into account the particular context of each application.

// July 14, 2014

The Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research is pleased to open nominations for the fifth annual Aubrey J. Tingle Prize and Lecture.

This prize is given to a British Columbia clinician scientist or scholar practitioner whose work in health research is internationally recognized and has significant impact on advancing clinical or health services and policy research — as well as its uptake — to improve health and the health system in BC and globally. The prize winner will present at an MSFHR event to be scheduled early in 2015. The prize is valued at $10,000. The deadline for nominations is Friday, September 5, 2014.

> Nomination instructions and eligibility criteria

Review and selection of the candidates will be made by a volunteer panel comprised of researchers with expertise in practice-relevant health and health system research. The panel’s recommendation will be  forwarded to MSFHR’s Board of Directors for ratification.

The Aubrey J. Tingle Prize was created to honour the important role that Dr. Tingle played as founding president & CEO of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research from 2001 to his retirement in June 2008. A pediatrician and immunologist, Dr. Tingle has maintained a lifelong interest in the role of viruses in disease, with particular interest in rubella arthritis and juvenile diabetes.

Past winners include Dr. Julio Montaner (2010), Dr. Michael Hayden (2011), Dr. Bruce McManus (2012), and Dr. Martin Gleave (2013).

For more information or to nominate a candidate, please refer to the competition page.


// July 9, 2014

Thirty-two exceptional BC health researchers have been named recipients of Scholar awards through MSFHR’s 2014 Scholar Program funding competition.

The award recipients, selected from a highly competitive pool of more than 120 applicants, represent a bright future for health research in BC. Their innovative projects span a broad range of disciplines and will help to address important health challenges for the benefit of all British Columbians.

> View the full list of 2014 Scholar award recipients

Three of this year’s Scholar awards will be jointly funded in partnership with BC-based not-for-profit organizations. MSFHR is pleased to partner with the BC Schizophrenia Society Foundation and the Rick Hansen Institute to support research directly relevant to these organizations’ mandates.

With a maximum term of five years, MSFHR Scholar Awards help British Columbia create and sustain a base of excellence that fosters world-class research across the health spectrum. MSFHR Scholar Awards enable recipients to: focus on research activities; train the next generation of investigators; attract additional funding from national and international sources; and generate high-quality knowledge economy jobs.

Since 2001, MSFHR has invested more than $117 million in funding more than 360 Scholar awards that directly support BC’s top health researchers.


// July 7, 2014

According to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), fewer than 60 percent of decisions on general medical services are supported by appropriate research evidence, and up to 25 percent of patients get care that is not needed or could be harmful. Can the public – as patients, taxpayers or citizens – help change these statistics?

Currently, funding decisions regarding the most pressing health concerns and determining best practices for treatment are made by a combination of researchers, review panels, health and non-profit agencies, industry and governments. However, there is compelling evidence to suggest that all British Columbians have an important role to play in improving the impact of health research.

Apart from improving research impact and quality, it is also argued that as citizens, we have a right to be involved in publicly funded research that could improve or affect our health or the services we receive. To address this, “patient-oriented research” units are being established across Canada as part of CIHR’s national Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR). According to CIHR, SPOR aims “to foster evidence-informed health care by bringing innovative diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to the point of care.”

As British Columbia’s health research agency, the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research is facilitating the development of a provincial unit within SPOR that will identify the needs of patients and the health care system and fund research that addresses those needs.

The SPOR Support Unit’s approach to establishing patient involvement in health research in British Columbia includes:

  • Training in public involvement – not only for the public, but for researchers and research-related agencies.
  • Helping these agencies to change practice and policy so that involving the public in health research, where appropriate, becomes the standard.
  • Developing evidence on public involvement itself, to learn what works best and how to improve.

SPOR is intended to improve health outcomes and enhance patients’ health care experience by integrating research evidence at all levels in the health system. This presents an important opportunity to make health research more responsive to health care system priorities focused on improved patient outcomes.

Statistics show Canadians believe in health research. Involving the public in health research in BC – improving its quality and ensuring the results are effectively used to support good health and a strong health system – will bring us closer to fulfilling that promise.

 

Bev Holmes is vice-president, research & impact for the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research and has been actively involved in developing British Columbia's SPOR Support Unit.


// June 25, 2014

MSFHR is pleased to announce the launch of the 2014 Health Services & Policy Research Support Network (HSPRSN) Partnership Program.

These awards, offered annually since 2005, support BC researchers in applying to peer-reviewed national or international competitions that require matching funds as a condition of award. Successful applicants will receive up to $80,000 per project to investigate issues that address provincial health system priorities.

A total of $260,000 is available to support successful applications to the 2014 competition. If there are more successful applications during 2014 than can be supported by the HSPRSN Partnership Program, funds will be allocated based on the rank order established by the funding partner.

> Apply to the 2014 HSPRSN Partnership Program

Currently, MSFHR has a partnership agreement with CIHR’s Partnerships for Health System Improvement (PHSI); however, other competitions requiring matching funds that are launched in 2014 will be considered as well. The funding partner(s) must be willing to enter into a partnership agreement with MSFHR for award administration.

The deadline for completed applications for matching funds from the CIHR-PHSI program is 4:30 p.m. (PST) on September 3, 2014. For full application details, download the competition guidelines.

HSPRSN Partnership awards help advance health services research in BC by leveraging funding and encouraging collaboration among researchers, practitioners, and policy-makers. Previously funded projects have focused on the:

  • Impact of community-based HIV/AIDS services on health care access and outcomes.
  • Factors influencing how older adults transition through long-term care.
  • Effectiveness and sustainability of a program to reduce falls and related injuries among home-care patients.

// June 23, 2014
Connections >> An MSFHR Update - June 2014

Connections is MSFHR's monthly e-newsletter. Each issue highlights the top MSFHR news from the past month and showcases the impact of research we've funded.

Join our mailing list to receive Connections by e-mail!


In this issue:

Feature

MSFHR News

MSFHR People


SPOR update: Support Unit business plan approved for submission to CIHR

MSFHR and the BC Ministry of Health are very pleased to announce that the business plan for BC's SPOR Support Unit has been approved by the project's Interim Governing Council. At a review meeting held June 17, IGC members indicated strong support for the vision and model set out in the Support Unit business plan.

The approved business plan will be submitted to CIHR by the end of June. CIHR will conduct an iterative review of the business plan, consisting of both internal and external evaluation. More details on this process will be posted to the BC Support Unit website as they become available.

BC's Support Unit will build a foundation for transforming our health system through research by engaging patients as key members of a new partnership including decision-makers, health care providers, and researchers. This partnership will set research priorities and work together to plan, design, conduct, apply, and learn from research that is meaningful and beneficial for patients, and that drives innovation and change in our health system.

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KT activities building capacity, advancing science

MSFHR is continuing its work as a provincial leader in KT with a range of activities focused on building KT capacity and advancing KT science:

  • A new workshop co-sponsored by MSFHR and Vancouver Coastal Health will help researchers and trainees learn how to develop an end-of-grant KT plan. The half-day workshop, scheduled for October 23, 2014, is now accepting applications. Learn more.
  • MSFHR's KT team recently published a new article in the journal Implementation Science. The article outlines the value of a province-wide online survey conducted by MSFHR in 2012 to assess the KT training needs of researchers and research users. Read the article.
  • Gayle Scarrow, MSFHR knowledge translation manager, was a panelist on a recent CIHR-IHSPR Policy Round webinar discussing the Evidence-Informed Healthcare Renewal (EIHR) Portal. MSFHR is a key funding partner of this portal, which allows policy analysts, health system decision-makers, and researcher to access the latest health care renewal evidence.

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Aubrey J. Tingle named to Order of British Columbia

Dr. Aubrey J. Tingle, founding president & CEO of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, is one of 25 exceptional individuals appointed last month to the Order of British Columbia.

Dr. Tingle is recognized for his outstanding contributions to advancing health research in British Columbia. Through his critical role in the creation of MSFHR, Dr. Tingle helped create a strong health research environment that attracts and retains the best researchers and supports them to produce innovative discoveries. He served as MSFHR's president & CEO from 2001 until his retirement in 2008.

Dr. Tingle and this year's other recipients will be formally inducted into the Order of British Columbia November 6 at a special ceremony in Victoria.

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Partnership awards support health system improvement

Three research projects focused on improving the delivery of health care have been selected to receive funding through CIHR's Partnerships for Health System Improvement (PHSI) Program and the Health Services & Policy Research Support Network (HSPRSN) Partnership Program.

Launched in 2005, the HSPRSN Partnership Program supports BC researchers in applying to peer-reviewed national or international competitions that address BC health services and policy research priorities and require matching funds as a condition of award.

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MSFHR program review underway

MSFHR has begun a comprehensive program review to help it develop a suite of regular competitions that align with the research needs identified in the BC health research strategy.  

This process involves detailed environmental scanning in BC, Canada and internationally, and key informant interviews to help it gain a better understanding of the needs that exist in BC with respect to health research funding programs and the strengths that could be augmented. These two steps will be followed by broader consultation with the BC health research community in the fall

All of this input will help MSFHR staff develop a final report with recommendations for review by its board of directors in November 2014. For more information on the program review, contact Greg Martyn, director, projects and interim director, programs (gmartyn@msfhr.org).

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Make sure you stay on our list

We want to make sure you continue to get updates on MSFHR news, events and funding opportunities. To ensure we can do that, we need your express consent under Canada's new anti-spam laws that go into effect July 1.

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Career opportunities

MSFHR is currently recruiting for the following positions:

  • Manager, BC Ethics Harmonization Initiative (term)
    Reporting to the Director, Projects, this position is responsible for the planning, implementation, and evaluation of the BC Ethics Harmonization Initiative.
  • Data Analyst (one-year term)
    This position will manage and analyze health research data from multiple sources and present it in a variety of formats for internal and external end-users.

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Jennifer Gardy

Dr. Jennifer Gardy, a member of MSFHR’s Research Advisory Council, has been honoured with a Women of Distinction Award by YWCA Metro Vancouver. Gardy was recognized in the "Technology, Science and Research" category for her work as a senior scientist at the BC Centre for Disease Control and her contributions as a science communicator and mentor.

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Dr. Ryan McNeil

Dr. Ryan McNeil, 2013 MSFHR Trainee award recipient, is the co-author of Homelessness and Health in Canada, a new book exploring how social, structural, and environmental factors impact the health of Canada's homeless population. The book is available as an open-source publication and can be accessed online for free.

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Martin Schechter

Dr. Martin Schechter, MSFHR chief scientific officer, was honoured June 4 by peers and colleagues for his decades of contributions to HIV/AIDS and opioid addictions care, teaching, and research. The reception included remarks by prominent representatives of the health, academic, and research communities, as well as reflections on the highlights of Schechter's 21-year leadership of the CIHR Canadian HIV Trials Network from which he stepped down earlier this year.

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// June 20, 2014

MSFHR and the BC Ministry of Health are very pleased to announce that the business plan for BC's SPOR Support Unit has been approved by the project's Interim Governing Council. At a review meeting held June 17, IGC members indicated strong support for the vision and model set out in the Support Unit business plan.

The approved business plan will be submitted to CIHR by the end of June. CIHR will conduct an iterative review of the business plan, consisting of both internal and external evaluation. More details on this process will be posted to the BC Support Unit website as they become available.

BC's Support Unit will build a foundation for transforming our health system through research by engaging patients as key members of a new partnership including decision-makers, health care providers, and researchers. This partnership will set research priorities and work together to plan, design, conduct, apply, and learn from research that is meaningful and beneficial for patients, and that drives innovation and change in our health system.


// June 16, 2014

Three research projects focused on improving the delivery of health care have been selected to receive funding through CIHR's Partnerships for Health System Improvement (PHSI) program and the Health Services & Policy Research Support Network (HSPRSN) Partnership Program.

Launched in 2005, the HSPRSN Partnership Program supports BC researchers in applying to peer-reviewed national or international competitions that address BC health services and policy research priorities and require matching funds as a condition of award.

Successful applicants receive up to $100,000 per project to investigate issues that address HSPRSN priorities and evaluate health system redesign or change initiatives.

Since 2005, MSFHR has granted 31 HSPRSN Partnership Awards totaling nearly $3 million.

The recipients of this year’s HSPRSN Partnership Awards are profiled below:

Advice Seeking Networks in Residential Long Term Care

> Principal Investigator: Carole Estabrooks
> Co-Investigator: Jennifer Baumbusch

Issue: In healthcare, social network analysis is often used to explore patterns of interaction between individuals within a single organization. Much less is known about the social (advice-seeking) structure between healthcare facilities, and between nursing homes, there is almost no information. For example, are nursing home leaders in touch with each other? Do the leaders of different nursing homes share ideas about quality improvement or other innovations?

Research objective: The purpose of this study is to identify existing advice-seeking networks among nursing homes in the Western and Atlantic Provinces, the Yukon, NWT and Nunavut. An understanding of this structure will help accelerate the adoption of innovations across the nursing home sector. This will be the first study in North America to investigate the informal social networks of nursing home senior leaders in long-term care, based on social network analysis.

iFOCUSS: Informing Future Orphan Drug Coverage Using Scenario Studies

> Principal Investigator: Larry D. Lynd

Issue: It has been estimated that approximately one in 12 Canadians suffer from one of more than 7,000 different rare diseases, and the number of rare diseases identified increases every week - especially with the emergence of personalized medicine. Orphan drugs used in the treatment of rare diseases are typically too expensive for most patients and their families; the cost of treating a single patient routinely costs more than $500,000 per year. The high cost of orphan drugs is resulting in a significant challenge for the health care system - in particular, pharmaceutical reimbursement plans, and has been identified as a rapidly emerging policy issue.

Research objectives: The primary objectives of this study are to:

  1. Identify future challenges of the development of drug coverage decision making models relating to funding of drug therapies for rare diseases. This will be achieved by conducting scenario studies with experts and key stake-holders, and by capitalizing on existing capacities and research initiatives within the CIHR-funded New Emerging Team for Rare Diseases.
  2. Use the findings from the scenario studies to propose policy alternatives for priority-setting and decision-making for expensive drugs for rare diseases.

Surgery Quality Outcome Reports  (SQORs): low-cost evaluation and spread of a surgery outcomes improvement program

> Principal Investigator: Roanne Preston

Issue: In 2011, the BC Patient Safety and Quality Council established the Surgical Quality Action Network (SQAN), which began participating in the US National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) at a cost of $5 million per year. Evaluation in the US shows that NSQIP enabled hospitals to reduce costly adverse outcomes, such as readmissions, extra procedures and longer stays. But participation is costly as it requires additional staff and time consuming procedures. 

Research objectives: This study will evaluate the potential for use of BC's central administrative databases for low-cost evaluation and performance feedback on surgical quality improvement initiatives, such as BC's SQAN. Questions to be evaluated will include:

  1. What is the validity and relative cost of using administrative databases to produce routinely updated SQORs and to extend SQAN’s support of small hospitals?
  2. To reduce data costs and help spread to other jurisdictions, what is the feasibility and statistical power of a case-­‐control design for chart review and follow-­‐up phone calls?
  3. What trends in outcomes due to SQAN most reduced healthcare utilization and costs?