Unity Health Toronto announces new research plan
May 19, 2021
TORONTO – Unity Health Toronto has launched a new Research Strategic Plan, (http://stmichaelshospitalresearch.ca/strategic-plan) mapping out the next five years of research at the organization. “Our new five-year plan, built in consultation with our internal and external stakeholders, will be our compass for the next five years,” said Dr. Ori Rotstein (pictured), vice-president of research and innovation at Unity Health. “It will ensure we are laser-focused on our purpose, research pillars and strategic enablers.”
The plan identifies an objective for the institute: world-class research and innovation that transform patient care and population well-being.
By building on historic strengths at St. Michael’s Hospital, and seeking opportunities to continue to expand research at Providence and St. Joseph’s, the plan sets out to establish four pillars of world-class research and innovation:
- Critical Care
- Urban and Community Health
- Organ Injury and Repair
- Brain Health and Wellness
Significantly, the plan calls for the establishment of a new hub for AI in health research to cultivate data science expertise in the health domain, generating new advanced analytics methodologies for interpreting health data and applying healthcare solutions and practices, in collaboration with community and patient partners.
“Unity Health Toronto was among the first healthcare institutions in Canada to make significant investments in data systems and machine learning. Moreover, Unity Health is situated in a global AI hotspot and has strong ties to key ecosystem players such as the University of Toronto and the Vector Institute. Anchored by our infrastructure, expertise and partnerships, and considering our rich and diverse repositories of health data (spanning well beyond our hospital data warehouse to urban communities in the Toronto region and global populations in low and middle income countries), our institution is uniquely positioned to apply big data and advanced analytics to the healthcare context.”
The health system will promote the “seamless interconnectivity between research and care, driven by robust data and informatics infrastructure.” The strategy asserts that each patient who interacts with Unity Health will have the opportunity to participate in research.
“We plan to co-create, together with our patient and community partners, optimal legal, ethical and governance frameworks to systematically mine large-scale clinical, social and economic data and generate novel insights that help improve patient care and the patient journey.”
Leveraging state-of-the-art informatics infrastructure, big health data, advanced analytics methodologies and AI, Unity Health Toronto intends to accelerate the discovery of new therapeutics, to generate more precise and sensitive diagnostic tools, to predict the efficacy of novel medical solutions, to model the effectiveness of policy and system-level health interventions, and to optimize the uptake of evidence-based clinical practices.
As additional components of the plan, the three-hospital network plans to co-design with patient and community partners, a research data governance framework to ensure data collection is “fulsome and equitable”, that data ownership is fair and transparent and that data are suitable, accessible, appropriately protected, and ethically used to promote wellbeing (not causing unintentional harm).
It also plans to create a patient data repository for research, as well as informatics infrastructure and advanced analytics capabilities, in accordance with the co-created data governance framework and in collaboration with the Data Science and Advanced Analytics Office.
The document identifies strategic enablers will help the institute achieve its goals:
- Support the health and wellbeing of our research community members and empower their growth and success
- Embed Equity, Diversity and Inclusion as a core value
- Establish a robust patient, family and community partnership model
- Integrate data and advanced analytics as a driver
- Achieve excellence in research operations