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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 data sets.

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.
Data years: Fiscal 1997-2015* (April 1 to March 31)
Source agency: Medavie Blue Cross
Database contact: Jordan Farrell, 902-494-3688, 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 - 807 KB]

Seniors' Pharmacare (PHARM)

Purpose: PHARM records the costing and drug details behind filled prescriptions
Data years: Fiscal 1989-2015 (April 1 - March 31)
Source agency: Medavie Blue Cross
Database contact: Jordan Farrell, 902-494-3688, jordan.farrell@nshealth.ca
Type: Annual administrative records
Target population: The Senior's 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).
Data years:
ASD: Fiscal 1989 – 1994 (April 1 to March 31)
DAD: Fiscal 1995 – 2014 (April 1 to March 31)
Source agency: Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI)
Database contact: Jordan Farrell, 902-494-3688, jordan.farrell@nshealth.ca
Type: Annual administrative records
ICD coding: ICD-9: 1989-2000
ICD-10: 2001-2014
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 PIPEDAcompliant

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.

Because the CIHI DAD metadata is proprietary to CIHI, a data dictionary is not available online.

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.
Data years: Fiscal 2011-2014 (April 1 to March 31)
Source agency: Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI)
Database contact: Jordan Farrell, 902-494-3688, 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.

Because the CIHI NACRS metadata is proprietary to CIHI, a data dictionary is not available online.

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.
Data years:
MASTER: Fiscal 1996-2015 (April 1 to March 31)
ELIGIB: Fiscal 1997-2015 (April 1 to March 31)
POSTAL: Fiscal 1998-2015 (April 1 to March 31)
Source agency: Medavie Blue Cross
Database contact: Jordan Farrell, 902-494-3688, 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 - 653 KB]

Licensed Provider Registry (DOCTORS)

Purpose: Demographic information regarding health services providers
Data years:
DOCS: Fiscal 1995-2015 (April 1 to March 31)
EDUC: Fiscal 1995-2015 (April 1 to March 31)
OPTIN: Fiscal 1995-2015 (April 1 to March 31)
     
Source agency: Medavie Blue Cross
Database contact: Jordan Farrell, 902-494-3688, 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 - 611 KB]

Vital Statistics – Death (VITAL)

Purpose: Recording Nova Scotia population death information
Data years: Calendar 1990-1996*, 1997-2013 (January 1 to December 31)
Source agency: Statistics Canada
Database contact: Jordan Farrell, 902-494-3688, jordan.farrell@nshealth.ca
Type: Annual administrative records
ICD coding: ICD-9: 1990-1999
ICD-10: 2000-2012
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 - 697 KB]

Patient Geography (WHERE)

Purpose: The WHERE postal code geography database contains geographic information derived from an individual’s postal code.
Source agency: Generated at HDNS
Database contact: Jordan Farrell, 902-494-3688, jordan.farrell@nshealth.ca
Type: Administrative records
Target population: All individuals recorded in HDNS datasets
Size: 3,888,138 observations of 1,507,831 individuals
Security & access: View data access guidelines
Legality: Use of data for research purposes must be PHIA and PIPEDA compliant

Variable summary:

  • Census geographic details (census division, subdivision, dissemination area, etc.)
  • Average and median family and household income
  • Longitude & latitude, longitude & latitude precision

More information:

The WHERE dataset is generated at HDNS using patient geography data from other datasets as well as income and population data from the 2006 long form census.

Download the WHERE Data Dictionary [PDF - 892 KB]