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BC SUPPORT Unit launches in SPPH building

Nov 09, 2016 |

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The federal and provincial health ministers unveiled an $80 million investment in health research today, the British Columbia Support for People and Patient-Oriented Research and Trials Unit (BC SUPPORT Unit).

The announcement was made in the School of Population and Public Health (SPPH) building, and several faculty members have ties to the new Unit, including Professor Stirling Bryan, the Unit’s Scientific Director, and Associate Professor and Population Data BC Scientific Director Kimberlyn McGrail, who is the Unit’s Data Lead. Professor Martin Schechter also serves as a board member of the BC Academic Health Sciences Network, within which the Unit will work.

The BC SUPPORT Unit was developed under the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) and is supported by $80 million in funding over five years from both the federal and provincial governments, through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research respectively, as well as several other BC partner organizations.

Jane Philpott

Federal Minister of Health Jane Philpott

It will provide services for researchers, patients, health care providers and health system decision makers, and facilitate initiatives identified as provincial priorities. The Unit, a multidisciplinary cluster of specialized personnel in research, policy and patient care, will engage patients to identify their needs and set priorities for research. It joins similar units in other province and regions of the country to create a pan-Canadian platform for sharing information and best practices.

Along with partner organizations, a provincial hub based in Vancouver will serve stakeholders within the Vancouver region and provide province-wide services. Regional centres are being developed to be the first point of contact for stakeholders located outside of the Vancouver region. Gradually, the Unit will assist with patient engagement, research navigation, data access and use, knowledge translation, and training and capacity development.

Federal Minister of Health Jane Philpott said the government was committed to making sure policy decisions were founded in good scientific evidence, and she was a strong supporter of patient-centred approaches to health research, such as SPOR.
“SUPPORT Units are essential…to assist those that are involved in patient-oriented research. They provide the backbone, the necessary expertise to pursue patient-oriented research and help to lead reforms in response to the locally determined health care needs.”

This was a locally determined project, with SUPPORT Units created from the ground up, there to respond to local research priorities, and the needs of patients, clinicians, and decision makers.

“Importantly, patients are engaged every step of the way, as they should be, and patients benefit by being involved in setting the health research agenda.”
Federal Minister of Health Jane Philpott

B.C. Minister of Health Terry Lake said the Unit would make sure research was relevant to real-life patients. An example of how the Unit would help researchers included a program which could screen data to find whether enough was available for study.

Terry Lake

B.C. Minister of Health Terry Lake

The B.C. government’s set priorities for the health care system put the patient at the centre of all the decisions made around policy and delivery of care, he said.

“And this is extending that into research, which I think will have very important results for people here in British Columbia.”
B.C. Minister of Health Terry Lake

BC Academic Health Science Network board member, and Faculty of Medicine Dean Dermot Kelleher said the launch was a starting point for what would be a transformative venture for research and patient care in the province.
“The main role of this Unit is to both engage with our patients and engage our patients as partners in research so that we can enable research that translates knowledge effectively…quickly and efficiently to the health system.”

BC SUPPORT Unit Patient Engagement Working Group member Kent Loftsgard said by increasing integration of patient collaborators into the design and delivery to health research, the Unit provided another needed reminder to all health care sectors that patient-benefit is the ultimate point of everything they do.

Dr. McGrail said Population Data was very excited to be part of the BC SUPPORT Unit. “The Unit is being built with new partnerships and with a lot of energy and enthusiasm about what we can do together to improve health care in the province.”

To view more photos of the BC SUPPORT Unit launch, click here.

Pictured from left, Associate Professor Kimberlyn McGrail, SPPH co-director Carolyn Gotay, BC Academic Health Science Network board member, and Faculty of Medicine Dean Dermot Kelleher, Federal Minister of Health Jane Philpott, ‎BC Academic Health Science Network Executive Director Minnie Downey, B.C. Minister of Health Terry Lake, BC SUPPORT Unit Patient Engagement Working Group member Kent Loftsgard, and Canada Research Chair in Patient-Oriented Knowledge Translation and Department of Physical Therapy Professor Linda Li

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