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Future forward: PHSA’s research enterprise continues to strengthen

PHSA plays a pivotal role in the lives of those who need specialized health care services. Learn more about the research that’s making a difference for patients and families in B.C., across Canada and around the globe.
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​Innovative, inspiring, cutting-edge, visionary – this is research at PHSA. 

From a new prostate cancer procedure that reduces long-term side effects and biomarkers that improve care for kids with immune disorders, to managing the province’s measles outbreak and leading a national strategy aimed at eliminating cervical cancer, PHSA research is being applied to improve, sustain and enhance the health of patient populations in B.C., across Canada and around the world. 

Learn more in this year’s consolidated summary report on research and practice education metrics, or take a deeper dive into the Research Metrics and Practice Education Metrics supplementary reports.

Producing and advancing knowledge

With external funding of more than $134 million, PHSA continues to be one of Canada’s largest academic health science organizations.

While the number of our researchers is down from 807 to 788, this is largely due to retirements and the vibrancy of PHSA’s research enterprise is reflected in the increase of our research trainees – from 1,970 in 2017/18 to 2,315 in 2018/19.

PHSA researchers also continue to publish prolifically, with the total number of publications up at BC Cancer, Women’s Health Research Institute (WHRI) and BC Centre for Disease Control. 

Clinical trial activity has increased across PHSA from 561 active trials last year to 619 active trials this year. 

And finally, PHSA welcomed approximately 3,000 students this year to programs across the organization from 36 different post-secondary institutes.

Online and high impact

PHSA research recognizes the significance of championing digital and virtual health methodologies to improve patient outcomes. Here are just a few of the ways that we’re using the power of online tools and technology to impact health care:

  • Launch of an updated Concussion Awareness Training Tool for Medical Professionals, a free e-learning course accredited by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada that helps standardize diagnosis and treatment of concussion.

  • Creation of Allergy Check, a new assessment tool available free online and as a mobile app, that guides users through the likelihood their symptoms result from a food allergy.

  • Launch of Active & Safe, a new website that gives parents, kids, coaches and teachers easy access to evidence-based injury prevention information for more than 50 popular sports and recreational activities.

  • Provision of virtual reality headsets and related training to care teams across BC Children's Hospital based on research showing they distract children under treatment, lessening pain and anxiety.
Setting the stage for policies and guidelines
Research at PHSA not only makes a difference for current patients, their families and their quality of life. Evidence gathered by PHSA researchers continues to inform, influence and contribute to challenging policy decisions and clinical guidelines for the future of health care at home, in Canada and on an international scale. Highlights from this year include: 

  • A new, national latent tuberculosis (TB) screening policy for high-risk migrants developed by BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) researchers, in consultation with federal and provincial partners.

  • A virtual health pilot project based on research demonstrating its effectiveness that enabled 10 oncologists to deliver specialized care to cancer patients in their home through an online virtual portal will be made available to all oncologists on Vancouver Island.

  • A new paediatric-specific guideline developed by BC Children's Hospital researchers for collecting and testing for serious infections. Adoption of the guideline has increased successful diagnosis of dangerous infections at BC Children's, enabling appropriate treatment.

  • International clinical practice guidelines for intraoperative care in caesarean delivery, and an international clinical practice consensus statement on supporting safer conception and pregnancy for men and women living with and affected by HIV – co-authored by WHRI researchers.
Precision medicine and rich data: where PHSA shines
PHSA researchers are recognized world-class leaders in precision medicine and are known for their expertise and collection of unique and rich clinical data assets. 

  • PHSA and B.C. led the country in Genome Canada’s 2017 Large-Scale Applied Research Project (LSARP) and Technology Platform competitions, with six of the 15 projects funded by Genome Canada based in B.C., and five of those projects, totalling approximately $47 million, led by PHSA researchers.

  • Research leadership provided by BCCDC researchers helped shape the Blueprint to Inform Hepatitis C Elimination Efforts in Canada. The BCCDC’s BC-Hepatitis Testers Cohort, a database containing anonymized medical information on testing, healthcare utilization and outcomes dating back to 1990, has become internationally recognized for its comprehensive and population-level information.
Future forward, together
With an expanded role, PHSA and its people are taking steps to support a more integrated system of care. This includes research entities in all our programs, working in partnership to achieve the best health outcomes for British Columbians and beyond. The facts and figures above tell only part of the story. The future is bright and we’re moving toward it in a position of strength, knowledge and innovation – together.

For more information, please check out this year’s consolidated summary report and the supplementary Research Metrics and Practice Education Metrics reports. 

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