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EPIC Research

Graphic - EPIC LHS Logo - A Yellow Lightbulb Encircled by Alliance Brand Colours

Although we have always been committed to research, evaluation, and quality improvement, we recognize that there is more we can do at the centre and sector level to bring these elements together. On October 29, 2020, our Executive Leaders’ Network approved making an intentional shift to become a Learning Health System (LHS). An LHS brings together information from practice and research and feeds it back to teams in ways that are meaningful and useable to them. This in turn leads to practice change that improves care. 

The Alliance is committed to continuous learning that can advance our collective vision of the best possible health and wellbeing for everyone living in Ontario.

Our research program interacts with the Model of Health and Wellbeing in two ways: The model informs our research questions and methods, and the knowledge generated by our research provides insights into how best to operationalize the model and adapt it to local contexts. Research helps us to understand the populations we serve; to recognize emerging health challenges, such as loneliness and isolation; and to evaluate new and ongoing programs and services so we know what’s working and where there are opportunities for improvement.

Research also helps us to tell our story. We know our members’ work is immensely valuable to the communities and individuals they serve. In order to ensure that our partners and stakeholders recognize this, we need clear data. This includes quantitative data – numbers – that demonstrate this value at a system and population level, as well as qualitative data – stories – that show how our work impacts individual patients, caregivers, and providers. Sharing our knowledge through conferences, presentations and publication in peer-reviewed journals helps us reach as many people as possible.

The Alliance’s research program is spearheaded by Dr. Jennifer Rayner, our Director of Research and Evaluation. Dr. Rayner is also an adjunct research professor at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at Western University. However, like our members’ work, our research portfolio is collaborative and crosses sector lines. We work with over 50 research partners from academia, primary care, and public health.  

Our journey of becoming a Learning Health System has been underway for more than five years, and it has been a focus of the Alliance’s work since 2019. Formally adopting this shift as a strategy is not the end of the journey but the beginning of a new phase.

Here are some recent research highlights: 

  • A study of how COVID impacts people experiencing homelessness was published in the journal CMAJ Open on January 11, 2021. Key findings:
    • People with a recent experience of homelessness were more likely than others in the community to be tested for COVID-19 and to have a positive test result.
    • Among people with a positive test result, those with a recent experience of homelessness were more likely to be admitted to hospital, over 10 times more likely to require intensive care, and over 5 times more likely to die within three weeks.
  • The First Peer-Reviewed Canadian Study on Social Prescribing was published in the journal BGJP Open on January 5, 2021. It shows that participants' positive experiences align with a theory of motivation known as Self-Determination Theory (SDT), a clue to how the program works to improve health outcomes.
  • An article about how the community primary healthcare sector responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with equity-based interventions to support social connectedness, food and housing security, and care continuity was published in Longwoods Healthcare Quarterly in October 2020. 

For a list of all Alliance-led research publications, and links where applicable, visit our research library. For the latest news from our research team, check out our monthly newsletter, EPIC News.

Here are some of our ongoing research projects:

Primary Healthcare and COVID-19

  • Primary care and COVID-19 Response 
  • Virtual care during COVID-19 and implications for future care delivery
  • COVID-19: The Role of Leaders in Shifting to and Sustaining Virtual Delivery of Social Programs
  • Recommendations for Patient-Centred Telemedicine: Learning from Patients’ Experiences with synchronous virtual primary care encounters during the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Deferred Outcomes in Canadian Children and Youth: Measuring and Mitigating risk during COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 among the populations served by Aboriginal Health Access Centres and Indigenous Governed Community Health Centres

Other Research Projects

  • Evaluation of Rx: Community 
  • Evaluation of TeamCare.
  • Effectiveness of interdisciplinary teams and other primary care reforms in Ontario
  • Spread and Sustainability of Integrated Models of Team-Based Care for the Management of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
  • Health Outcomes and the Association with Primary Care Use Following Transfer to Adult Healthcare Services amongst Young People with Neurologic Impairment and Technology Dependence in Ontario:
  • Primary Care for Individuals with Severe Mental Illness (PRiSMI)
  • Advancing knowledge of homelessness: Expanding use of administrative datasets in Ontario:
  • Optimizing Canada's Healthcare for Refugees
  • Diabetes Action Canada – Project OPEN

As studies are published and presented at conferences, we post links to them in our online research library.

Here's how to stay in touch:

  • If you would like to learn more about our research program, participate in a research project with us, or wish to request data for your academic or community-based research, please email Jennifer Rayner at jennifer.rayner@allianceON.org.
  • Follow #AllianceONResearch and #AllianceONLearns on Twitter 
  • Subscribe to EPIC News, the monthly newsletter of our Learning Health System for updates on research projects, opportunities, and resources. Check out back issues here.