Health Minister Adrian Dix

Health Minister Adrian Dix has said that “The Ministry of Health should be the centre of independent, non-conflicted health information and research, as part of ensuring the best outcomes for British Columbians, and the best investments in their public health system,”

“This strategy will help restore the ministry’s position as a leader in evidence-based health policy to ensure patient safety, better health outcomes and quality improvement in our public health-care system. At a time when questions about how to deliver patient-centred care grow in number, complexity and urgency, we must enhance our research capacity to support the fundamental goals of public health care,”

“In the 21st century, accessing and utilizing research is essential to preventing illness, improving quality of life and helping patients recover fully. Putting our Minds Together is about realizing these goals, as the strategy fills gaps created by the damaging impact of the health firings, and paves a path to make the ministry a forerunner again in evidence-based research and analysis,”

“Already in the September 2017 budget update, our government delivered on a renewed long-term commitment to the Therapeutics Initiative. In existence for over almost 25 years in B.C., the Therapeutics Initiative has saved lives and saved money through education and independent reviews of the efficacy and value of prescription drugs. Much was lost in the health firings scandal, and this plan points the way to a brighter future. I wish to thank all those who participated in its development – inside and outside of government,”

“This is much more than just a response to the ombudsperson’s report,” said Dr. Malcolm Maclure, a professor and B.C. chair of patient safety in the department of anaesthesiology, pharmacology and therapeutics at the University of British Columbia, and former co-director of research and evidence development in the ministry’s pharmaceutical services division. “To me, it’s a refreshing blueprint for concrete steps towards a culture in which decision-makers and researchers collaborate on developing evidence that is directly relevant to policy.”

Highlights of the strategy include:

  • In collaboration with the University of British Columbia’s Therapeutics Initiative, the ministry’s pharmaceutical services division will develop a new optimal drug-use program to help doctors with appropriate prescribing.
  • The Therapeutics Initiative will undertake systemic drug utilization reviews. This involves post-market evaluation of drugs, to assess:
    • if they are being prescribed properly;
    • if they are cost-effective; and
    • to consider new evidence that emerges about their therapeutic value and safety.
  • Introduction of Healthwiser, a platform to evaluate patient services, programs and policies through rapid-cycle evaluation.
  • Starting in September 2018, the ministry will have senior researchers, as well as those who are early in their careers working on site with staff, as part of research residency and fellowship programs.
  • Improving access to data that does not include personal information through new tools and policies.

“We congratulate the Ministry of Health on the strategy and look forward to continuing our collaborative relationship with the ministry to improve the health-care system, health outcomes for British Columbians and the research enterprise in the province,” said Bev Holmes, president and CEO of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.

Implementation of the strategy is well underway, and will take approximately 18 months to complete. A $5-million annual fund will support the research, evaluation and knowledge-management activities included in the strategy. This fund is in addition to a $10-million, five-year fund to renew and bolster the Therapeutics Initiative.

Since April 2017, when the ombudsperson’s report was released, the Ministry of Health has worked to respond to all of the report’s recommendations, including the creation of this research strategy report.