Centre for Health Services and Policy Research

This centre aims to expand research efforts focused on understanding the growing role of pharmaceutical agents within the health care system. In particular, unit researchers will focus on studying population-wide aspects of the financing, delivery and use of pharmaceuticals for the purpose of informing health policy, strengthening the health system and improving health. This will include developing a comprehensive pharmaceutical data infrastructure to support the research.

Leader:

Members:

  • Jonathan Agnew, PhD
    University of British Columbia
  • Morris Barer, PhD, MBA
    University of British Columbia
  • Kenneth Bassett, MD, PhD
    University of British Columbia
  • Anne-Marie Broemeling, PhD
    University of British Columbia/Interior Health
  • Robert Evans, PhD
    University of British Columbia
  • Kimberlyn McGrail, MPH
    University of British Columbia
  • Barbara Mintzes, PhD
    University of British Columbia
  • Steven Morgan, PhD
    University of British Columbia
  • Robert Reid, MD, PhD
    University of British Columbia
  • Diane Watson, PhD, MBA
    University of British Columbia

This centre aims to expand research efforts focused on understanding the growing role of pharmaceutical agents within the health care system. In particular, unit researchers will focus on studying population-wide aspects of the financing, delivery and use of pharmaceuticals for the purpose of informing health policy, strengthening the health system and improving health. This will include developing a comprehensive pharmaceutical data infrastructure to support the research.

Prescription drugs currently cost Canada approximately $15 billion per year, second only to hospitals in costs to the Canadian health care system. They are also the fastest growing component of public health expenditures, with costs increasing by almost $1 billion annually. The Centre for Health Services and Policy Research (CHSPR) at the University of British Columbia will focus on studying population-wide aspects of the financing, delivery and use of pharmaceuticals in order to better inform health policy, strengthen the health system and improve the health of British Columbians.

BC is home to the world’s largest longitudinal, population-based database on health services utilization and the determinants of health. Collectively known as the BC Linked Health Database (BCLHD), these data sets are provided by the BC Ministries of Health, and other organizations such as the BC Workers’ Compensation Board, the BC Cancer Agency, and Statistics Canada. CHSPR operates and maintains the BCLHD, providing state-of-the art privacy protection while facilitating access to the data for approved research in the public interest. The only pharmaceutical data set currently housed with CHSPR is from the BC PharmaCare program, providing data for the subset of the population eligible for benefits. However, PharmaNet, owned by the College of Pharmacists, provides comprehensive information for the entire BC population. This data set will be made available to CHSPR to evaluate a new benefits program for pharmaceuticals in BC - Fair PharmaCare - that was introduced in May 2003. With the additional information that will be collected for this program, BC’s pharmaceutical data holdings will become the most extensive and comprehensive resource of its kind in Canada for population-based pharmaceutical research.

With funding provided by MSFHR, CHSPR will develop systematic tools and analytic resources to better utilize the PharmaCare and PharmaNet data to support research relevant to the development of evidence-based pharmaceutical policy. Research will be focused in two key areas:

Improving our understanding of and ability to develop policies that will improve system-wide patterns of pharmaceutical use among BC populations. This research will draw on CHSPR’s strengths in information system development, the mapping of morbidity in populations, and understanding pharmaceutical use in the context of other health care services.

Understanding the dynamics that influence pharmaceutical expenditures for the population of BC in order to manage pharmaceutical financing in a more efficient and equitable manner. Areas of focus will include identifying the key determinants of prescription drug expenditures, determining the concentration and persistence of private and public financial burdens associated with pharmaceuticals and other health services, and developing tools to map the potential impact of cost management strategies.

Award term completed September 2009.