June 4, 2020 – TORONTO — The Ontario government has appointed Dr. Jane Philpott as the special advisor to support the design and implementation of the new Ontario Health Data Platform (formerly known as PANTHR). This data platform will provide recognized researchers and health system partners with access to anonymized health data that will allow them to better detect, plan, and respond to COVID-19. As well, this platform will support projects from the Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund.
The Ontario government is investing $20 million through the Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund to support COVID-19 research by tapping into the expertise of Ontario’s colleges and universities, research institutions and non-profit scientific partners.
“Dr. Philpott has extensive leadership experience in the health care system and her advice will be invaluable as we finalize the creation of the Ontario Health Data Platform,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “This data platform will provide our world-class researchers and health system partners with secure access to better and more consistent population data, improving decision-making in health care and aiding our efforts to beat COVID-19.”
The Ontario Health Data Platform is being developed in consultation with the Ontario Privacy Commissioner. The information gathered will help break down long-standing barriers and allow researchers to help with:
- Increasing detection of COVID-19;
- Discovering risk factors for vulnerable populations;
- Predicting when and where outbreaks may happen;
- Evaluating how preventative and treatment measures are working; and
- Identifying where to allocate equipment and other resources.
MainstreamCanadian.ca reached out to Dr. Anjum Ahmed, Global Chief Medical Officer and AI expert at Agfa HealthCare (a Belgium based healthcare IT technology provider with its research and development center in Waterloo, Ontario) to comment further on the role of data analytics and AI when it comes to pandemics. Dr. Ahmed has been speaking on the role of Enterprise Imaging platform and has published thought leading papers on AI. He has written on how COVID-19 has not only exposed the vulnerabilities in our healthcare systems, its operations and infrastructure set up, but also the need for radical change in how we deploy secure and modern platform ecosystems.
“A platform that seamlessly aggregates patients’ clinical data, pre-existing conditions, or exposure to new health risks, clinical profile, wearable device health informatics and medical imaging intelligence on an interoperable platform, will help our front-line staff and diagnosticians with evidence-based actionable intelligence,” said Dr. Anjum Ahmed. “What we need is a digital twin of our patient population so we are better prepared with real-time predictive intelligence not only for disease detection and diagnosis, but also for academic research and training on the path towards precision health,” further added Dr. Ahmed.
Working in consultation with the Ontario Privacy Commissioner, the Ontario Health Data Platform will hold secure data that will allow researchers and clinical decision-makers to better support health system planning and responsiveness, including the need to analyze the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund was launched to provide research institutions with funding to contribute to global efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.