Protecting health data while improving the province’s health care system is the focus of a research organization, which is hoping to attract individuals from Northern Ontario.

ICES is a research organization working on health care issues.

Sudbury ICES North Director, Mike Conlon, says the committee want public input so the data can be used to improve the system, as long as their data is protected.

He adds by taking part in the council, people from Northern Ontario get to help expand research contributing to the improvement of health care and health services in the North.

The Sudbury-based satellite is looking for individuals to be part of its Public Advisory Council to share their perspectives on health data.

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Conlon says it’s especially important that this Council includes members from Northern Ontario, since the health care needs and particular insights of people in the North, especially people living in rural and remote communities, can be quite different from those of people in other parts of Ontario.

As a member of the Public Advisory Council you will share your lived experiences, values and ideas to provide guidance on the way data is used by researchers to improve health care for all Ontarians. Your input will help shape the way health and other data are used in research, what issues researchers tackle, and how health data research is shared with the public.

In fact, ICES research has probably already influenced the way you approach your health and the everyday health of your family and friends. ICES research has led to the removal of a number of harmful medications from store shelves established concussion protocols for young children in sports, and also suggested ways to tackle hospital overcrowding.

Since 1992 ICES, an independent not-for-profit research institute with seven locations across Ontario, with ICES North, located at Health Sciences North, being the newest satellite location. ICES North opened in September of 2018 and is a partnership supported by the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Laurentian University, and the Health Sciences North Research Institute. ICES has been entrusted with protecting the private health information of Ontarians. ICES uses this data to study and evaluate the health care system. Health leaders also use this information to improve how health care is delivered. ICES carefully protects the privacy and security of this data with oversight from Ontario’s Information Privacy Commissioner. ICES is a model for health data institutes across Canada.

To ensure Ontarians have a say in how ICES uses this valuable data resource, ICES is inviting members of the public to join the conversation on how health data should be used to improve the health care system and make new discoveries. Anyone interested in joining the ICES Public Advisory Council can apply online at www.ices.on.ca/public