Home > About us > News > HQC enters into new collaborations with U of S researchers
July 21, 2015

HQC enters into new collaborations with U of S researchers

Dr. Erika Penz will estimate the cost effectiveness of implementing lung cancer screening in Saskatchewan (Photo courtesy of SHRF)

The Health Quality Council (HQC) is collaborating with researchers from the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) on several projects that could directly impact the health of residents in this province.

The project topics include: measuring the quality of care for inflammatory bowel disease patients; measuring the cost effectiveness of lung cancer screening; measuring health care utilization in the period leading up to a multiple sclerosis diagnosis; and the effects of vitamin D supplementation in long-term care on hip fractures.

“The expertise of our researchers and research analysts at HQC complements the expertise of the academic researchers at the U of S. HQC has skilled staff members who have experience working with large administrative health care databases and in the design of studies of health-care services utilization and quality,” said Tracey Sherin, HQC’s director of analysis and research partnerships.

“HQC is acting as a bridge between academia and the health system, enabling research that can quickly influence health-care practice. We strive to play an ‘integrator’ role, bringing together researchers, care providers and policy-makers to exchange their unique knowledge to produce innovations in health-care policy, practice and planning.”

Dr. Juan-Nicolas Pena-Sanchez (centre) discusses his work with Dr. Gary Teare (left) and Dr. Lisa Lix (Photo courtesy of SHRF)

 HQC is now collaborating on the following projects with U of S researchers:

  • Measuring the quality of care for inflammatory bowel disease patients (Dr. Juan-Nicolas Pena-Sanchez and Dr. Jennifer Jones, College of Medicine): Dr. Pena-Sanchez was one of the recipients of the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) 2014 Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Awards. His project, which is co-funded by Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, is entitled “Assessing quality of care for patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and evaluating the impact of the Multidisciplinary IBD Clinic in Saskatchewan: a population-based cohort study using administrative data.” With assistance from HQC and in collaboration with Dr. Jennifer Jones, Dr. Lisa Lix, and Dr. Gary Teare, Dr. Pena-Sanchez will measure health-care utilization patterns of IBD patients in Saskatchewan, comparing patients who access the Multidisciplinary IBD Clinic and those who do not. The project will also evaluate drug utilization by IBD patients in Saskatchewan, and will include an evaluation of the exposure of pregnant women with IBD to immunosuppressive therapy and to medications known as biologics.
  • Measuring the cost effectiveness of lung cancer screening (Dr. Erika Penz, College of Medicine): Dr. Penz was one of the recipients of a SHRF 2014 Establishment Grant. Her project is entitled “Cost Effectiveness of Lung Cancer Screening in Saskatchewan – Applying Microsimulation Modeling and Saskatchewan-specific Costs of Lung Cancer Diagnosis and Management.” Dr. Penz will use data from HQC and Saskatchewan Cancer Agency data to assess the direct health-care costs and service use during various phases of lung cancer care for patients over the age of 35, and explore differences for groups of individuals based on location of residence, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, and age. Using this data, she will estimate the cost effectiveness of implementing lung cancer screening in Saskatchewan. HQC will conduct a large portion of the data analysis to support Dr. Penz’s work.
  • Measuring health care utilization in the period leading up to a multiple sclerosis diagnosis (Dr. Charity Evans, College of Pharmacy and Nutrition): Through her research, Dr. Evans – in collaboration with researchers in other provinces – will test the hypothesis that patients who are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, or MS, will have increased health-care utilization patterns in the months leading up to the diagnosis. This is known as a prodromal phase. Discovering the markers of a prodromal phase in MS can help to identify individuals at risk of developing MS and facilitate the diagnosis of the disease. Dr. Evans collaborated with HQC previously on a study of adherence to immunomodulators – the medications used to treat MS.
  • The effects of vitamin D supplementation on falls and hip fractures in long-term care (Dr. Susan Whiting, College of Pharmacy and Nutrition; and Dr. Lilian Thorpe, College of Medicine): Through their research, Dr. Whiting and Dr. Thorpe will examine the effects of vitamin D supplementation on hip fractures in long-term care homes. Because previous research has shown that there are benefits to vitamin D supplementation, some health regions and facilities have developed guidelines or policies for prescribing vitamin D in long-term care settings. HQC will assist the researchers with their analysis, including creating the cohort for the study.

Sherin said staff members at HQC are excited to be a part of the new research collaborations. HQC enters into research collaborations with academic partners for several reasons. For instance, a particular project may enable HQC staff members to develop new skills and methods or access new databases. Entering into research collaborations also enables HQC to meet its responsibilities under The Health Quality Council Act.

“Through various projects, such as the new collaborations with U of S researchers, HQC is able to fulfill its obligations under the Act and make meaningful contributions to improving the province’s health system,” said Sherin. “We have also been collaborating with health system and academic partners to develop a provincial research support unit in Saskatchewan to build greater capacity for research with direct impacts on quality and safety of health care in this province.”

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), through its Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR), is co-funding the creation of Support for People and Patient-Oriented Research and Trials (SUPPORT) Units in each province.

“HQC, along with health system and academic partners, has submitted a proposal to CIHR to develop a Saskatchewan SUPPORT Unit,” said Dr. Gary Teare, HQC’s CEO. “HQC sees investment in a Saskatchewan SUPPORT Unit as consistent with the research and collaborations it has been undertaking for years.”