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NACTRC Real World Evidence

The NACTRC Real World Evidence Unit brings together multidisciplinary teams to design and perform pragmatic trials and research projects that generate real-world evidence.

“Real world evidence is all of the information we capture about patients as they go through the health care system,” says Marni Devlin Moses, Associate Director of the Real World Evidence Unit. “It can include anything from the electronic medical record to pharmaceutical information… anything really outside of clinical trials.”

This real world data provides the evidence to show patients, payers, and practitioners the value of treatments and services based on actual health outcomes and care costs.

“Alberta has a unique opportunity,” says Dr. Justin Ezekowitz, a cardiologist at the University of Alberta. “We have a very organized health care system that is first in class in many aspects of it. We have a large degree of cohesion in what we want to study and how we want to study it. We have large data sets or information we can collect on patients and across Alberta.”

By using millions of patient experiences, we can see how treatments perform in the real world and make more informed health care decisions.

NACTRC Centre Director Dr. Lawrence Richer says, “We have a health service provider in Alberta Health Services that’s very committed to research and really wants to see research entrenched in the daily work of clinical care, that it’s truly integrated in how we deliver care, so that as we’re caring for individuals, we’re also learning.”

The Real World Evidence Unit is a research centre that works with NACTRC to design and perform pragmatic trials and research projects that harness the power of real-world health data.

The unit offers access to today’s brightest clinician researchers working in a range of diseases and methodologies. It partners with companies, patients, payers, practitioners, regulators, and HTA bodies to generate knowledge and gather evidence that guides clinical care, defines product use, and informs decisions about payment policies and strategies.

What is real-world evidence?

Randomized controlled trials normally involve just a few thousand patients in a tightly controlled setting. As a result, the data that comes out of these trials is limited. By using millions of patient experiences instead of a few thousand, we can see how treatments perform in the real world and make more informed health care decisions.

Real-world evidence (also known as RWE) is information about patient health that comes from sources other than standard clinical trials and research. This often takes the form of patient records and data found in health databases, insurance claims, and even medical apps and personal devices. Real-world evidence helps evaluate and compare the value of treatments and services based on actual health outcomes and care costs.

Why does real-world evidence matter?

Public payers and evidence assessment groups need to provide care, technologies, and outcomes that serve the needs of patients — all while working within a strict budget.

Real-world evidence shows the value of medicine for both the patient and the health system. It provides new ways for payers and industry to work together and define the value of new and existing products. Applied in this context, it can inform therapeutic development, health care system and outcomes research, effectiveness studies, and patient care to improve quality and safety.

Why come to Alberta for real-world evidence studies?

We have a single-payer health care system.

Alberta is home to Canada’s first and largest fully integrated health care system: Alberta Health Services. AHS serves Alberta’s diverse and fast-growing population of 4.2 million people. Because we have one health care system, real-world health data can be sourced from many databases.

  • Clinical information systems
  • Ambulatory care (e.g., emergency, day surgery) 
  • Inpatient information (e.g., Discharge Abstract Database, hospital morbidity)
  • Practitioner claims
  • Population registry (e.g., demographic and geographic information) 
  • Alberta Blue Cross pharmacy claims
  • Pharmaceutical Information Network (for patient drug use summaries)
  • Vital statistics (e.g., births and deaths)
  • Disease registries
  • Collected data (e.g., patient-reported outcomes, practical clinical trials)

We have internationally recognized researchers.

The Real World Evidence Unit works with a vast network of experts that includes clinicians, methodologists, analysts, health economists, and policy makers in many different disciplines such as the ones below.

  • Pediatrics
  • Neurology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Endocrinology
  • Cardiology
  • Rheumatology
  • Airway diseases
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes

We can bring these experts together to create agile, focused teams specific to your needs. They can then inform evidence-based decisions and achieve results you can trust through a wide range of academic, methodological, and clinical expertise. We also work with our health system to help us find information that’s relevant to Albertans and that applies in other communities.

We have world-class facilities.

Alberta offers programs and services at over 650 facilities across the province, such as hospitals, clinics, continuing care facilities, cancer centres, mental health facilities, community health sites, and internationally ranked medical schools. Through these facilities, we have access to the second-ranked AI and machine learning team in the world, as well as state-of-the-art data analysis methodologies.

Have an idea for a project? We’d love to hear from you!

Real World Evidence Partners

Alberta Economic Development and Trade
Alberta Health
Alberta Health Services
Alberta SPOR Support Unit
Institute of Health Economics Alberta Canada
University of Alberta
University of Calgary
Innovative Medicines Canada