Table 2

Descriptions of the data sources used to complete the projects

Data sourceDescription
National Ambulatory Care Reporting System (NACRS)
  • Governed nationally by the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

  • Contains data for hospital-based and community-based ambulatory care including day surgery, outpatient and community-based clinics, and emergency departments.

  • Submission of emergency room visit data to NACRS is mandatory in Alberta.

  • Emergency room data are abstracted from patient charts by trained data extractors following standards set by the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

  • Outpatient data are sent via non-abstracted formats, and data collection methods vary by clinic.

  • Submission requirements determined at the clinic level for outpatient settings.

Discharge Abstract Database
  • Governed nationally by the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

  • Captures information from admissions to acute care facilities in the province.

  • Mandatory for all acute care facilities to submit data.

  • Mandatory fields vary by geographic location.

Diagnostic Imaging
  • Provincial database made up of the 3 Radiology Information Systems (RIS) in Alberta: Cerner Millennium (Calgary), Agfa RIS (Edmonton), and Meditech (Aspen, Chinook, David Thompson, East Central, Northern Lights, Palliser and Peace Country).

  • Contains information on diagnostic imaging tests (eg, MRI and CT scans).

Alberta Health Services Labs
  • Contains lab results from the 4 Lab Information Systems in the province: Meditech, Millennium, Sunquest, LabFusion.

  • Data is captured in both standardised (eg, categorical) and unstandardised (eg, free text) formats.

Physician Claims
  • Captures ‘claims submitted for payment of Alberta service providers for health services delivered under the Alberta Healthcare Insurance Plan’.

  • Data elements include patient information, provider information, and service information such as health service code, date of service, amount paid, facility, up to three diagnostic codes, and shadow billed claims (service data optionally submitted by physicians on alternative payment plans).

  • Mandatory for fee-for-service physicians to submit visit information.

  • Practical differences in reporting processes between fee-for-service and alternative payment plan physician results in inconsistent data capture.

Pharmaceutical Information Network
  • Community pharmacies are mandated to report prescription medication dispenses within 24 hours of dispensing.

  • Includes information such as drug dispense date and drug information details (eg, drug identification number).

Sunrise Clinical Manager
  • Clinical Information System used exclusively in the Calgary Zone.

  • Captures rich information such as demographics, allergies, orders (eg, lab, diagnostic imaging, medications), medication administrations, results and diagnoses for patients in acute care facilities, emergency departments and some outpatient clinics.

eClinician electronic medical record
  • Used at all outpatient diabetes clinics in the Edmonton Zone.

  • Is an ‘integrated information management platform supporting the collection, access, use and sharing of information supporting the delivery of health services to persons and populations in multiple settings across the continuum of care’.37