NS to spend $25M to help Saint Mary’s University develop courses for managing health-care data

NS to spend $25M to help Saint Mary’s University develop courses for managing health-care data

The Nova Scotia government is spending $25 million to develop health-care data analytics and management programs at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.

Minister of Advanced Education Brian Wong made the announcement on Wednesday to a crowd gathered at the university’s Loyola Conference Hall. He called it the most significant investment Saint Mary’s had seen, and said it would transform the province’s health-care system but didn’t specify how.

“We need to come into the modern era as far as data and health care. We’ve done it in other sectors many years ago, and it’s time that we do it.”

Wong mentioned the one patient-one record system Nova Scotia announced last month that will bring electronic health-care records to the province.

“One of the things that has been proven is that our family doctors are spending an awful lot of time on doing paperwork. These data and analytics will help relieve the burden,” he said.

According to a press release from the university, the new initiatives include a diploma in health-care data analytics, a business administration program for health-care administrators, office directors and family doctors, and an agreement with the Nova Scotia Community College’s health-care programs to provide a bachelor of science.

A burgundy sign that says
The funding announcement was made at Saint Mary’s University on Wednesday. (Mark Crosby/CBC)

Saint Mary’s University interim vice-president of academic and research Madine VanderPlaat said the money will be used purely for program development. But she didn’t have many details beyond that, saying the university was informed about the funding within the last few weeks.

“This announcement came very suddenly and so now we have to consult with our faculty who designed and delivered these programs. So we will know that in a few months time in terms of where we’re going with that.”

Last month, Canada’s premiers accepted the federal government’s proposal to spend $196 billion on health care over the next 10 years, in exchange for commitments to upgrade data collection and digital medical records.

“It’s not about the money,” Wong said. “It’s about getting it right…. In the long term, it’s about more, faster.”