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‘Big Data’ at Bruyère: launching the Centre for Individualized Health


There is a growing number of aging and vulnerable people that need care. Each one of them has unique health needs. How can we help them get the individualized care that they deserve?

A team of Ottawa-based researchers recently launched the Bruyère Center for Individualized Health to address this issue. Housed at the Bruyère Research Institute, this innovative center will use ‘big data’ to improve the health of aging and vulnerable populations.

The Center for Individualized Health brings together researchers from a variety of disciplines to determine how ‘big data’ can support and help respond to this vital issue. This data comes from provincially-held databases that capture and store information about peoples’ visits to doctors, emergency rooms, and hospitals, among other information.

The researchers at the Center will use this big data to provide healthcare providers, patients, and caregivers with better tools and information to make decisions about their care. For example if a patient is diagnosed with a condition like dementia, these tools will allow healthcare providers, patients, and caregivers to predict whether that patient will need to be placed in a nursing home or whether they will die in the near future.

These tools will provide information that is tailored to an individual’s personal circumstances. This will then allow healthcare providers to discuss appropriate care with patients and their families, including when to introduce care in the home, when to provide care in nursing homes, and when to introduce palliative care.

This is the goal of RESPECT, an elder life calculator that will continue to be developed by researchers at the Centre for Individualized Health. This is a tool that uses an online quiz to predict a person’s risk of death while living in a nursing home.

“The idea here is to help people have those tough conversations,” says BRI’s Peter Tanuseputro, the primary investigator for RESPECT and the leader of the Centre for Individualized Health. “By giving families an idea as to when a loved one might die, we can hopefully open the door to more positive and meaningful conversations about the topic.

The first step in creating these kinds of tools is to turn ‘big data’ into meaningful information. The Centre for Individualized Health will bring together experts from fields ranging from mathematics, computer science, and epidemiology to accomplish this task. They will then mobilize this information to create real impacts on our healthcare system.

For more information on the project, or to connect with Peter Tanuseputro, please contact:

Eric Dicaire
Communications Coordinator | Coordonateur des communications
Institut de recherche Bruyère Research Institute