Data linkage allows information on an individual from one data source to be linked to information on the same individual from another data source. Using linked data makes it possible to gain a more comprehensive understanding than could be obtained from either data source individually. Data linkage is a particularly valuable tool for health research given the vast amount of information collected by public bodies such as governments, hospitals and health authorities. This data may also be linked to researcher collected data from consenting individuals participating in health research.
The use of administrative health data to support better health outcomes exists across many research areas, for example:
- Analyzing patient characteristics, treatment costs and outcomes of care to identify the most cost effective healthcare, thereby influencing provider behaviour,
- Applying advanced analytics to patient profiles (e.g., segmentation and predictive modeling) to identify individuals who would benefit from preventative care or lifestyle changes,
- Disease profiling to identify predictive events and support prevention measures.
Such research is vital, not only to inform and improve healthcare policy, but also to provide leadership in the innovative use of health data and development of analytic tools and related infrastructures.
This Coast to Coast Seminar Series on Population Health Research focuses on some of the exceptional work that is currently being done in this field using administrative data. It highlights how cross-sectoral, longitudinal studies of health indicators and progressive analytic techniques can produce outstanding contributions to inform health-related policy-making for healthier communities.