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CPCSSN Prospectus January 2015 just released

As CPCSSN zeros in on the end of it’s Phase III operations it has released it’s first PROSPECTUS.   The PROSPECTUS has been developed to focus on making a difference where health matters and move forward in  three (3) major research arenas:  sentinel EMR surveillance, research and knowledge development, and practice transformation.   To download or  open a pdf copy of the document click here  CPCSSN_ProspectusVersion_Jan14-2015

CPCSSN – A Greater Purpose

The Health Council of Canada closed its doors on the 31st March of this year.  I wonder what, if any, difference the termination of the Council will make for health care reform?

The Council was a national, independent, public reporting agency established in 2003 to monitor policy and program commitments related to the First Ministers’ Accord on Health Care Renewal.  It gathered and shared information on health care innovation across the country – the practices, policies, programs and services that are improving health outcomes and the way health care is delivered.  I used its reports and Health Innovation Portal for some of my own work over the years.  And I guess it fair to say that  some aspects of its work supports the strategic direction of CPCSSN.

For example, in November 2012 one of the Council’s senior policy analysts wrote, “Government-led initiatives are promoting changes like greater use of electronic medical records (EMRs), inter-professional team-based care, and innovations in practice management to help primary care physicians see more patients, more effectively.”

CPCSSN has been working with sentinel physicians and other stakeholders across the country to help support such change.  Our sentinel feedback tool is designed to provide the information practitioners need to better affect the health of their patient population.  A January 2013 news release on the Council’s website announces that the use of information technology means better communication with patients and improved safety, quality and coordinated care.  I was somewhat relieved to see a more patient-centered proclamation, an appreciation of the patient experience.

My eyes fell upon a familiar bit of information; “57% [of Canadians] have at least one chronic condition and 31% have two or more.”  The conditions of this study included arthritis, asthma, and other lung diseases, cancer, mental health problems such as depression or anxiety, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.”  (2013 Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey of the General Public published in the Health Council’s January 2014, Bulletin 8.)  CPCSSN developed and rigorously validated case definitions for eight chronic diseases for surveillance activities and primary care and public health research.

And while there is much work to do in chronic disease prevention, management and intervention practice, I believe this translates to be much more than learning about the prevalence of chronic disease.  It is about improving overall health outcomes for individuals and communities through evidence-based best practices.  How best to do this using electronic medical record-based data?

My considerations lead me to the Conference of Deputy Ministers of Health’s vision for the secondary use of health data; “ … health system use of electronic health data that will both protect the privacy and confidentiality of patients and serve Canadians and Canada’s health care system well into the future.”  (Better Information for Improved Health: A Vision for Health System Use of Data in Canada, June 2013)

This all strikes a chord for me.  I can easily see the role of CPCSSN is comprised of innovators in the capture and use of electronic health data.  We have created a surveillance system, an information technology platform using new sources of health care data.  We have an award-winning privacy and information security system.

As a national network of sentinel surveillance and research collaborators and coordinators, CPCSSN is placed to serve a greater purpose.  I am convinced that our work can influence primary care and public health downstream at the practitioner and best practices level, and upstream at the policy and program levels with research and knowledge development.  We are creating intelligence from primary care data.  We are the bridge between health research, policy and primary care practice.  We are becoming a part of the system for change.  CPCSSN is part of the solution.

October 2014

Richard Birwhistle 280x280

Dr. Richard Birtwhistle

Validating 8 CPCSSN Case Definitions for Chronic Disease Surveillance published in Annals of Family Medicine

CPCSSN data are appropriate for use in public health surveillance, primary care, and health services research, as well as to inform policy for these diseases. The full details on CPCSSN case validation work can be found at

– The full reference for this CPCSSN published has been added to the ENDNOTE cloud part of the CPCSSN website also at

Williamson T, Birtwhistle R, Khan S, Garies S, Wong S, Natarajan N, et al. Validating the 8 CPCSSN Case Definitions for Chronic Disease Surveillance in a Primary Care Database of Electronic      Health Records. Annals of Family Medicine. 2014 July 14;12(4) July/August):367-72.Methodology. Epub July 14, 2014. English.

– Check out the CPCSSN case definitions list at

Prevalence and Epidemiology of Diabetes in Canadian Primary Care Practices: A Report from the Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network


Published online today; this study describes care patterns for 25,000 people with diabetes:  Vancouver style reference to this “in press” citation  for your reference:

Greiver M, Williamson T, Barber D, Birtwhistle R, Aliarzadeh B, Khan S, Morkem R, Halas G, Harris S, Katz A.  Prevalence and Epidemiology of Diabetes in Canadian Primary Care Practices: A Report from the Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network.  Canadian Journal of Diabetes 16 May 2014 (in-press 10.1016/j.jcjd.2014.02.030)

“Primary Health Care Intelligence: the 2013 progress report of the Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network (CPCSSN)” is now available

This report was prepared primarily for CPCSSN stakeholders and partners in order to share what has been accomplished to date in the realm of governance, IT, Privacy and Ethics, as well as surveillance and research. The contents includes a few highlights of information about each of the eight (8) CPCSSN chronic conditions* for which data validation was conducted plus obesity.

*Alzheimer’s including dementia

Each of the eight conditions will also have their own expanded publication being released in a Canadian healthcare research journal during 2014-2015. Notice of these and other publications / presentations / posters are updated on the new CPCSSN website at / but we will also let you know as each publication is released via another CPCSSN ALERT. CPCSSN_PrimaryHealthcareIntelligence2013report_EN

CPCSSN’s Data Presentation Tool (DPT) discussed at Montreal Symposium on e-health Oct 3-4, 2013

Have a look at this video link below about the CPCSSN Data Presentation Tool (DPT). The DPT is an EMR linkable software application that produces sentinel feedback reports for various CPCSSN networks across Canada. The speakers: Gilles Brousseau (MD, MCFP) who is part of the family medicine group (FMG) of St. Alexander, PQ. In addition, he also holds the position of Regional Director of Medical Education in Ottawa. Michelle Greiver (MD, MSc, CCFC, FCFP) is herself an assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Toronto and North York Family Health Team representative director of the Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network from The University of Toronto Practice Based Research Network (UTOPIAN).

The video was recorded at the symposium “Communication in the heart of e-health: Opportunities and challenges for patients, health professionals and organizations” which was held in Montreal on 3 and 4 October 2013. This video is a production by a team of Internet and Axis network health research in population health in Quebec.

Find more videos of the conference by clicking on this link:

CFPC-CPCSSN Chair Receives Queen’s Prize for Excellence in Research Award Nov 20, 2013!

Dr. Richard Birtwhistle, CFPC-CPCSSN committee chair, has won a Queen’s University Prize for Excellence in Research Award.

This award is given for excellence in scholarly research, research mentorship and research leadership. Dr. Birtwhistle was nominated by the Department of Family Medicine, the CSPC and his Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network (CPCSSN) colleagues, particularly for the development of CPCSSN.

The award was presented at this year’s Fall Convocation on Wednesday, November 20 at 2:30 p.m. at Grant Hall. read more

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