Health Authorities

An information sharing plan to the general health information sharing agreement between the Ministry of Health and health authorities outlines the terms and conditions under which record-level data is exchanged between the ministry and the health authorities for the purposes of program planning and evaluation, surveillance activities, and research. To start an agreement, the Health Data Request form (PDF, 613KB) needs to be completed and submitted.

Data requests with links between Ministry of Health data and health authorities’ data may require a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA). For these requests, the requestor should consult their privacy and security branch to identify whether a PIA is required prior to completing and submitting the Health Data Request.

The completion of a Health Data Request form takes time, planning and attention to detail. A major obstacle to timely access to data is inadequate or incomplete applications. When completing the form, please consult the Health Data Request Manual (PDF, 300KB).

The Process

1. Submit the Data Access Request to the Ministry of Health

Health authority requestor completes the Health Data Request form (PDF, 613KB) with the associated databases checklists (include the checklists for external data that will be linked with the ministry’s data, if applicable) and submits to the ministry: HealthDataHA@gov.bc.ca.

The form completion will require that the health authority requestor contacts the institution’s privacy office in order to identify the appropriate legal authorities for collection, use, and disclosure of information, which need to align with the project’s objectives.

The health authority requestor is also encouraged to contact their Decision Support teams in order to identify their health authority data needs and the decision support members that will provide assistance in data transfer.

2. Await the Ministry of Health's In-Depth Review

Ministry staff review the application to ensure appropriate use of data according to legislation and policy. Part of the review process may include a teleconference with all stakeholders to discuss the application and clarify questions. The ministry develops the information sharing plan to the general agreement to document the terms and conditions.

3. Sign-Off on the Agreement

The finalized information sharing plan to the general agreement is signed off by both the designated signing authority within the health authority and the ministry's chief data steward. Ministry staff will co-ordinate this effort.

4. Await the Ministry of Health's Data Preparation and Delivery

After sign off, the health authority (decision support) and the ministry begin data preparation according to terms and conditions set out in the information sharing plan to the general agreement. The approved dataset is then transferred securely to the appropriate party via the ministry's approved method.

5. Request Amendments to Data Access Requests (if applicable)

An applicant may decide to request one or more amendments to the project. Some examples for amendment requests include: data retention extension, additional years of data, and additional data files/fields.

For all amendments, ministry staff will assist requestors in the amendment application process. The amendment application form is available in the Related Forms sidebar box.

The ministry requires applicants to submit current ethics certificates for those projects that underwent ethics approval, whether research or evaluation projects.

6. Submit Analysis Outputs to the Ministry of Health

All written materials intended for public dissemination as an outcome of the data analysis must be submitted to the ministry for review and comment prior to release. The ministry is committed to providing feedback/comment within 45 business days of submission.

Information on how to submit materials for review is available in the Related Forms sidebar box.

7. Ensure Project Closure Compliance

Upon completion of the analysis, health authorities must ensure data destruction compliance and ensure necessary project closure documents are completed and submitted to the ministry.

Information on the project closure compliance and process is available in the Related Forms sidebar box.

If at any time after the application form has been submitted to DMS and before data has been released, the applicant decides to abandon the project, a project withdrawal form – Project Closure (Declaration of Project withdrawal) – available in the Related Forms sidebar box should be submitted to the Ministry.