Alberta health organizations and universities team up to optimize analysis of real-world data to inform decision-making

The Alberta Real World Evidence Consortium will support the development of quality real-world evidence generation and utilization.

UAlberta News Staff - 04 June 2018

How do we know if a health discovery, once it moves from the lab into the health-care system as an innovation, is really improving lives as it was intended to?

Real-World Evidence (RWE) studies the impact of an intervention or technology on health outcomes, and resource utilization in clinical conditions outside of the controlled clinical trial setting. The evidence is generated from routinely collected health data to evaluate the safety, effectiveness and value of newly introduced or existing health technologies and/or other interventions.

RWE is playing a growing role in technology adoption, as well as health policy and clinical practice decision-making, recognizing some of the limitations of traditional controlled clinical trials. Alberta has one of the largest, most mature, detailed and comprehensive health system data depositories in Canada. As such, Alberta is poised to become a global leader in RWE generation. To realize this potential, the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary, along with the Institute of Health Economics, have led the formation of the Alberta Real World Evidence Consortium. Consortium membership also includes Alberta Innovates, Alberta Health, Alberta Economic Development and Trade, and Alberta Health Services.

"Alberta is a leader in health innovation. With Canada's largest integrated health delivery system and this new consortium, we are set to take a leadership role in RWE research. The University of Alberta is excited to gain new insights to streamline and improve health care through real-world data," said Lawrence Richer, Associate Dean, Clinical & Translational Research in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta.

Through the Alberta RWE Consortium, industry and other health system partners have access to coordinated resources, expertise, processes and data that ensure high-quality RWE studies.

"The RWE consortium will help foster cutting-edge health research with industry and other health sector partners interested in real-world data applications in Alberta," said Marcello Tonelli, Associate Vice President, Research, University of Calgary, "This will guide health care investment, making policy more effective and impactful."

How can real world evidence make a real difference to the health-care system?

Governments and health service providers are using RWE to improve health outcomes in priority areas, and to monitor the post-market safety and effectiveness of new or existing health technologies and innovations. This information is also being used to support coverage and procurement decisions, as well as to assess return-on-investment of public dollars. Additionally, clinicians are increasingly using this information in the development of clinical guidelines and decision-support tools, and, with quality RWE, technology developers may improve market access over time.

"As a trusted convener, the Institute of Health Economics has a long-standing history of fostering collaborative partnerships. As Secretariat to the RWE consortium, the IHE will support the optimization of quality RWE research in Alberta," said Christopher McCabe, Executive Director and CEO, Institute of Health Economics.

The province of Alberta understands that its citizens place a high value on their right to privacy and confidentiality, so it protects and controls health system data through a rigorous data-protection regulatory framework. Those working on Consortium-led projects (e.g., data custodians and researchers) are legally obligated to be in strict compliance with provincial and federal privacy legislation, as well as established organizational privacy and security policies.

For more information about the Consortium, its suite of services, and its privacy and security measures, please visit