Ontario building big health database to fight COVID-19

The provincial government says it’s developing a new tool to help researchers to better detect, plan and respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.

In a release Sunday, the Ford government announced it’s working on a new health data platform, called the Pandemic Threat Response or PANTHR, that will allow researchers to better support health system planning and responsiveness.

The release said the information gathered in the secure platform will help with increasing detection of the virus, discovering risk factors for vulnerable populations, predicting when and where outbreaks may happen, evaluating how preventative and treatment measures are working, and identifying where to allocate equipment and other resources.

“Better access to integrated data will improve modelling and research to determine how COVID-19 is evolving, ensuring frontline staff are as prepared as possible in these unprecedented times,” said Minister of Health Christine Elliott. “While access to data is important, we are taking all measures to ensure patient privacy is always respected and Ontarians are aware of how anonymized information may be shared.”

The province says when launched, PANTHR will provide access to de-identified, integrated data on publicly funded administrative health services records.