Data Holdings

A wealth of information

Access over 400 million records using the HDNS Secure Data Platform. These records, which come from provincial administrative health databases, clinical databases and survey datasets provide valuable information related to:

  • insured health services
  • determinants of health and health outcomes
  • geographical mapping
  • national and provincial census and surveys

These datasets are linkable to each other, and to external datasets.

Updated data are received and incorporated into the data holdings throughout the year. We generally receive data between four to ten months after the end of the calendar or fiscal year. It can then take up to six months to validate, and document the data before they are ready for research use.

Datasets

MSI Physician’s Billings (MED)

Purpose: MED records physician billing information. Each observation records the details of a service encounter between an individual and a provider.
Dates Available: April 1, 1997 - May 15, 2021
Source agency: Medavie Blue Cross
Database contact: Jordan Farrell, 902-494-1181, jordan.farrell@nshealth.ca
Type: Annual administrative records
ICD coding: ICD-9
Target population: All individuals, excluding military, receiving billable services from physicians in Nova Scotia
Size: 7982761 observations of 810271 individuals for the 2012 fiscal year
Security & access: View data access guidelines
Legality: Custodian: Department of Health and Wellness
Use of data for research purposes must be PHIA and PIPEDA compliant

Variable summary:

  • Individual demographic information (e.g., birth date, sex, postal code)
  • Physician information (e.g., specialty, ID number for linkage to the physician registry)
  • Billing information & payment responsibility
  • Diagnosis codes and procedure codes

More information:

* The 1995 and 1996 datasets contain many commonly used research variables and may be recommended for use depending on the requirements of a research project. 1989-1994 are available, however these datasets contain less than half the variables available from 1997 onward.

There is only one diagnosis code from 1989-1996, and only the first three digits (pre-decimal) were recorded. From 1997 forward, up to three diagnosis codes with no length restrictions are available.

Download the MED Data Dictionary [PDF - 813 KB]

Nova Scotia Drug Information System (DIS)

Purpose: The Drug Information System contains tables which record information on prescriptions filled in community pharmacies in Nova Scotia.
Dates Available: October 1, 2016 - March 31, 2021
Source agency: Department of Health and Wellness
Database contact: Jordan Farrell, 902-494-1181, jordan.farrell@nshealth.ca
Type: Annual administrative records
ICD coding: ICD-10
Target population: Prescriptions filled at community pharmacies in Nova Scotia
Size: ~14,000,000 fills of ~7,000,000 prescriptions annually
Security & access: View data access guidelines
Legality: Custodian: Department of Health and Wellness
Use of data for research purposes must be PHIA and PIPEDA compliant

Brief Variable summary:

  • Linkage via encrypted health card number, prescriber ID, and/or unique prescription ID 
  • Drugs coded with their DIN. Drug form, strength and container information available. 
  • Prescription issues and refusals. 
  • Dispense, process, and pickup dates

Limitations :

 Certain facilities do not report to the DIS, and the DIS does not automatically collect certain types of information about medications or devices. Providers are encouraged to add additional information, however it is not required. Examples of information which is not automatically collected are listed below: 

  • hospital in-patient medications 
  • prescriptions for long term care facilities not serviced by a community pharmacy 
  • medical supplies / devices provided by stand-alone Home Health Care retailers 
  • prescriptions dispensed by Canadian Forces base pharmacies (e.g. CFB Halifax) 
  • prescriptions dispensed to correctional centres / penitentiaries not serviced by a community pharmacy 
  • over-the-counter medications 
  • devices not dispensed by a community pharmacy 
  • natural health products 
  • drug samples 
  • prescriptions dispensed by out-of-province pharmacies 
  • prescriptions dispensed through hospital pharmacies to out-patients or through hospital-based clinics 

More information:

  • Prescriptions filled in hospital pharmacies are not included at this time
  • Dispense costs/fees are not recorded in the DIS

Seniors' Pharmacare (PHARM)

Purpose: PHARM records the costing and drug details behind filled prescriptions
Dates Available: April 1, 1989 - May 17, 2021
Source agency: Medavie Blue Cross
Database contact: Jordan Farrell, 902-494-1181, jordan.farrell@nshealth.ca
Type: Annual administrative records
Target population: The Seniors' Pharmacare Prescriptions database contains all records for the population of Nova Scotia receiving Pharmacare benefits. All individuals in the database are 65 years of age and older.
Size: 4401614 observations for 134876 individuals in 2012
Security & access: View data access guidelines
Legality: Custodian: Department of Health and Wellness
Use of data for research purposes must be PHIA and PIPEDA compliant

Variable summary:

  • Individual demographic information (e.g., birth date, sex, postal code)
  • Drug/prescription information (din number, generic number, quantity dispensed)
  • Billing information & payment responsibility (e.g., dispensary fees, co-pay, markup)
  • 32 variables

Download the PHARM Data Dictionary [PDF - 738 KB]

CIHI Discharge Abstract Database (DAD)

Purpose: The Discharge Abstract Database (DAD) captures administrative, clinical and demographic information on hospital discharges (including deaths, sign-outs and transfers).
Dates Available:
ASD: April 1, 1989 – March 31, 1995  
DAD: April 1, 1995 – Feb 20, 2021  
Source agency: Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI)
Database contact: Jordan Farrell, 902-494-1181, jordan.farrell@nshealth.ca
Type: Annual administrative records
ICD coding: ICD-9: 1989-2000
ICD-10: 2001-2021
Target population: All individuals, exclusding military, discharged from acute care facilities which submit data to the DAD
Size: 94,154 observations of 69,217 individuals in 2012
Security & access: View data access guidelines
Legality: Custodian: Department of Health and Wellness
Use of data for research purposes must be PHIA and PIPEDA compliant

Variable summary:

Both ASD and the DAD contain:

  • patient demographics (age, gender, location, etc.)
  • attending physicians
  • diagnoses and procedures performed

The DAD data sets also contains information on:

  • service transfers while in hospital
  • specialty services received (e.g., physiotherapy, occupational therapy)
  • case complexity (e.g., resource intensity weight)

More information:

Data are collected on separations with a discharge date between April 1 and March 31 of the given fiscal year. For example, if an individual is admitted to a hospital during March 2012 and is discharged in April 2012, the record will be in the FY 2013 dataset.

The CIHI DAD metadata is proprietary to CIHI, and is available on their website.

CIHI National Ambulatory Care Reporting System (NACRS)

Purpose: The National Ambulatory Care Reporting System (NACRS) contains data for all hospital-based and community-based ambulatory care: day surgery, outpatient and community-based clinics, and emergency departments.
Dates Available: April 1, 2011 - Feb 25, 2021
Source agency: Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI)
Database contact: Jordan Farrell, 902-494-1181, jordan.farrell@nshealth.ca
Type: Annual administrative records
ICD coding: ICD-10-CA
Target population: All individuals, excluding military, receiving ambulatory/emergency care, as well as day surgeries
Size: 394905 observations of 219758 individuals in FY 2014
Security & access: View data access guidelines
Legality:

Custodian: Department of Health and Wellness
Use of data for research purposes must be PHIA and PIPEDA compliant

Variable summary:

  • Individual demographic information (e.g., birth date, sex, postal code)
  • Physician information (e.g., specialty, ID number for linkage to the physician registry)
  • Submission level code (level 1, 2 or 3)
  • Diagnosis codes and procedure codes
  • Triage date/time and level
  • Registration date/time 

More information:

Most day surgeries in Nova Scotia are in the CIHI DAD prior to FY 2011. Currently all hospitals collect day surgery information using NACRS.

Not all facilities collect ED information using NACRS and the data cannot be extrapolated from one facility to another.

ED information is collected using one of two levels of NACRS – Level 1 or Level 3. The field Submission Level Code in the database tells you which level of NACRS is being used.

There is no clinical data (diagnosis or intervention) collected with Level 1.

The province has not mandated collection of ED information using NACRS at this time.

Hospitals began collecting ED information at different times and some have started and stopped before completing a year.

The CIHI NACRS metadata is proprietary to CIHI, and is available on their website.

Insured Patient Registry (MASTER)

Purpose: The MASTER registry contains four data sets which record information regarding the entire population of insured health care beneficiaries in Nova Scotia.
Dates Available:
MASTER: April 1, 1996 - May 31, 2021  
ELIGIB: April 1, 1997 - May 31, 2021  
POSTAL: April 1, 1998 - May 31, 2021  
Source agency: Medavie Blue Cross
Database contact: Jordan Farrell, 902-494-1181, jordan.farrell@nshealth.ca
Type: MASTER, POSTAL, ELIGIB: Cumulative administrative records
Target population: Every individual registered as a beneficiary of provincial MSI healthcare services. These individuals may or may not currently be eligible for insured healthcare services.
Size:
MASTER: 1,388,035 individuals in the 2012 dataset
ELIGIB: 3,247,926 observations in the 2012 dataset
POSTAL: 2,659,671 observations in the 2012 dataset
Security & access: View data access guidelines
Legality: Custodian: Department of Health and Wellness
Use of data for research purposes must be PHIA and PIPEDA compliant

Variable summary:

  • MASTER: Demographic information such as gender and date of birth
  • ELIGIB: Insured Health Benefits program eligibility start/end dates
  • POSTAL: Individual geography (county, postal code, Canada Post community)

Download the MASTER Data Dictionary [PDF - 661 KB]

Licensed Provider Registry (DOCTORS)

Purpose: Demographic information regarding health services providers
Dates Available: April 1, 1995 - May 31, 2021
Source agency: Medavie Blue Cross
Database contact: Jordan Farrell, 902-494-1181, jordan.farrell@nshealth.ca
Type: Cumulative administration records
ICD Coding: N/A
Target population: Physicians that are registered and licensed to practice in Nova Scotia.
Size:
DOCS: 8,347 individual phyisicians recorded as of 2011
EDUC: 8,172 observations of 7,713 physicians as of 2011
OPTIN: 8,932 observations of 6,915 physicians as of 2011  
   
Security & access: Apply for access
Legality: Custodian: Department of Health and Wellness
Use of data for research purposes must be PHIA and PIPEDA compliant

Variable summary:

  • DOCS: Date of birth, place of birth, sex, provider type
  • EDUC: Education, graduation year, name of school, specialty received
  • OPTIN: Eligibility start & end dates, the period during which the physician was licensed to practice in Nova Scotia

More information:

The first DOCS dataset is created with data from the year 1995. However, since the data are cumulative, opt in/out records from 1969 onward are available.

There are no variable labels in the OPTIN dataset.

Download the DOCTORS Data Dictionary [PDF - 610 KB]

Vital Statistics – Death (VITAL)

Purpose: Recording Nova Scotia population death information
Dates Available: January 1, 1990 - December 31, 1996*, January 1, 1997 - December 31, 2019
Source agency: Statistics Canada
Database contact: Jordan Farrell, 902-494-1181, jordan.farrell@nshealth.ca
Type: Annual administrative records
ICD coding: ICD-9: 1990-1999
ICD-10: 2000-2015
Target population: Deceased Nova Scotians in Nova Scotia
Size: 8,423 individuals in VITAL12
Approximately 8,000 individuals recorded each year
Security & access: View data access guidelines
Legality: Custodian: Department of Health and Wellness
Use of data for research purposes must be PHIA and PIPEDA compliant

Variable summary:

Underlying and supporting causes of death, place of birth, place of residence, age, sex, marital status, hospital, autopsy and/or medical exam performed.

More information:

*The 1996 data set is cumulative from the year 1990. The data sets for 1997 onward are not cumulative.

Download the VITAL Data Dictionary [PDF - 750 KB]

Eligibility Group (EGROUP)

Purpose: The Eligibility Group (EGROUP) database contains 
Dates Available: April 1, 1995 - May 31, 2021 
Source agency: Medavie Blue Cross
Database contact: Jordan Farrell, 902-494-1181, jordan.farrell@nshealth.ca
Type: Cumulative Administrative Records
Target population: Every individual registered as a beneficiary of provincial MSI healthcare services. These individuals may or may not currently be eligible for insured healthcare services.
Size: 58,258 individuals in the 2015 dataset
Security & access: View data access guidelines
Legality: Custodian: Department of Health and Wellness
Use of data for research purposes must be PHIA and PIPEDA compliant

Variable summary:

  • Patient long-term care facility
  • From dates and to dates

More information:

Currently, HDNS only has access to EGROUP records for nursing homes in the province. However, we are hoping to access other groups such as the veteran’s records in the future.

Download the EGROUP Data Dictionary [PDF - 374 KB]