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 (HDR) form (PDF, 613KB) needs to be completed and submitted. When completing the form, please consult the Health Data Request Manual (PDF, 298KB). The process described below cannot start until the HDR is deemed complete.

A requester should consult their privacy and security branch and the MOH Health Information Privacy, Security, and Legislation Branch (HIPSL) to identify whether a PIA is required prior to completing and submitting the HDR.

The Process

1. Submit a data access request form to the Ministry of Health

A requester must first complete the Health Data Request (HDR) form (PDF, 613KB). When submitting the HDR form, the requester must also attach the associated databases checklists. If a requester intends to link external (non-MOH data) with MOH data, the checklists for that external data must also be submitted. These documents must be submitted to the ministry at the following email address: healthdatacentral@gov.bc.ca.

Requests involving linkages between MOH data and other organizations’ data may require a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA). Requesters are advised to consult their in-house privacy and security staff on whether or not to write a PIA prior to completing and submitting the actual HDR form to the ministry. Requesters are also advised to contact the ministry’s Data Management and Stewardship branch (DMS) prior to drafting a PIA in order to insure that the PIA aligns with the information-sharing agreement needed for the data sharing situation.

Completion of the HDR form takes time, planning, and attention to detail. A major obstacle to timely access to data is inadequate or incomplete applications. Requesters are advised to be meticulous in filling out the HDR form. When completing the HDR please consult the HDR completion instruction manual (available in the Documentation and Support Materials sidebar box).

2. In-depth review by the ministry

The ministry reviews the application for completeness, including provision of any supporting documentation (e.g., privacy impact assessments, security and threat risks assessments, service contracts, transfer under agreements, memoranda of understanding, business plans, and project charters).

If any issues are identified during the review, consultation with another program area or ministry may be required. For example:

  • Ministry of Finance may be consulted for indemnity and/or intellectual property issues;
  • Ministry of Attorney General may be consulted for legal issues;
  • Contracts Management at the Ministry of Health may be consulted for information sharing situations which involve a service contract.

The ministry reviews applications to ensure appropriate use of data in accordance with statutes and policy. The review process may include follow-up discussion and clarification. Ministry staff then develop an agreement to document terms and conditions.

3. Sign-off on the agreement

The finalized agreement must be signed off by all parties. Ministry staff will co-ordinate the signing.

4. Await the ministry's data preparation and delivery (if applicable)

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 data set is then transferred securely to the appropriate party via the ministry's approved method.

5. Request access to the Healthideas data warehouse (if applicable)

Third Party users may request access to the Healthideas data warehouse.  Learn more here.

6. Request amendment(s) 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.

7. Submit analysis outputs to the ministry

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.

8. 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 the ministry, and before data has been released, the applicant decides to abandon the project, a Project Closure (Declaration of Project Withdrawal) form (available in the Related Forms sidebar box) should be submitted to healthdatacentral@gov.bc.ca.