What is BC Data Scout™?

BC Data Scout™ is an online tool that gives health researchers a general idea about how many people in BC meet specific health characteristics or criteria. BC Data Scout searches the Ministry of Health data warehouse, counts people with certain characteristics and returns a general summary report with approximate numbers to the researcher.

What is BC Data Scout™ used for?

By using BC Data Scout, researchers can discover if there is enough information about people with certain health characteristics to support a research study. When doing health research, it’s important to have an idea how many patients meet specific criteria. This ensures that there’s enough information available to determine if the research study is worth pursuing further, giving researchers a better chance of securing future research funding.

What kind of information does BC Data Scout™ provide?

The service DOES NOT provide any personal medical and/or health information specific to any individual person, under any circumstances. Instead, BC Data Scout tells researchers how many people in BC match the selected criteria, rounded to the nearest 5. It does not reveal any count if the number is fewer than 10 people.

Can you give examples of how BC Data Scout™ could be used?

  • The tool can tell a researcher the rough number of males over 65 living in the Interior or in Northern BC who have diabetes, and use a certain type of medication.
  • The tool can give the average length of hospital stay for toddlers, children and youth (between 1 and 17 years old) in the Vancouver area.

How does BC Data Scout™ benefit me?

If researchers have a better understanding of the available data, they can produce higher quality and relevant research. These results are key to better health care, which means potential benefits for everyone.

Can someone look up my personal information using this tool?

No, this tool does not provide any information about individual people. Please see question 3 for information about the information that the tool provides.

Can this tool identify me?

No, this tool does not provide any personal information about individuals or target small groups of people.

Why launch BC Data Scout™ now? Is it really necessary?

In the past, researchers had to submit a full Data Access Request form without even knowing if there was enough data to test their ideas. Too often, researchers went through this lengthy process only to discover there wasn’t enough information to conduct their study.

Now, BC Data Scout allows researchers to quickly find out before starting if there is enough data to make a study worthwhile. But, they still need to submit a full Data Access Request later, if they want to get access to that data.

Why is this tool only available to researchers?

BC Data Scout is currently offered only to academic researchers who work in a BC academic institution or university. Access is provided through Population Data BC’s online portal (https://my.popdata.bc.ca/bcscout/) to users with account privileges. To access to BC Data Scout, researchers must have a my.popdata account.

I would like more information. Who do I contact?

Please contact the BC SUPPORT Unit at info@bcsupportunit.ca if you have further questions.