To deliver quality health information resources cost-effectively and efficiently to health practitioners, researchers, policy makers, and post-secondary institutions.

Our Principles

  • HKN is cost recovery.
  • Pricing is fair and consistent across all subscriber sites.
  • Subscribers benefit from group purchase discounts, and do not pay more than they would pay if they licensed outside the HKN group purchase.
  • New subscribers are not be added to the disadvantage of existing subscribers.


We value the health of Canadians. We believe that equitable access to quality health information will increase research capacity, improve the health of Canadians, and save lives.

We value fairness and transparency in our business model and believe that all our subscribers must benefit from group purchase discounts.

We value the transfer of knowledge and believe this is achievable through universal access to current health research and evidence.


Business Model

Licensing resources is complex. Publishers’ non-transparent and often arbitrary pricing models make it challenging to negotiate in good faith. Our model is simple. We are a health information consortium operated by the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary to deliver health information resources to practitioners, researchers, policy makers and post-secondary institutions in Canada’s Prairie Provinces. We extend the two universities’ license agreements to organizations to allow our subscribers to benefit from the licensing and collections expertise of our Partner Universities who help us navigate complex vendor relationships, and bring affordable, quality licensed health information to Canada’s Prairie health libraries and health care practitioners.

No membership fees

HKN is subscriber-based.

Opt in/out

Subscribers only pay for the resources they need. No core package is required.

Cost recovery

In lieu of membership fees, HKN recovers its costs through a portion of the discounts it receives from vendors. This model allows subscribers to license resources at a discounted rate while not paying additional fees.


HKN recovers the costs of operations to the Partner University libraries by applying a portion of its vendor discounts to its operational budget. The remaining discounts are applied to the subscribers’ subscription fees. Subscribers do not receive additional administrative or membership fees for HKN’s services.

An analysis of costs is done annually through an internal audit to determine HKN’s operational budget. The risks of operating HKN are borne by the Partner institutions and shared equally between them.

To minimize foreign exchange rate risks while accounting for non-recoverable GST fees, costs are presented in CAD at par. This allows subscribers to track annual vendor inflation and foreign exchange rate fluctuations. These risks are shared with the subscribers (including the Partner institutions).

Return on Investment

Return on Investment (ROI) can be found in one of HKN’s most important principles: “Subscribers benefit from group purchase discounts, and do not pay more than they would pay if they licensed outside the HKN group purchase.” This principle translates into two key cost savings:

  • No fees: No administrative or subscriber fees because HKN recovers its costs from a portion of the discounts it receives.
  • Consortia discounts: There must always be a consortia discount for HKN to license a resource on behalf of its subscribers. These discounts (ranging from 10% – 60%) are applied to all subscribers.


Furthermore, subscribers benefit from:

  • Cost avoidance: Subscribers do not pay internal resources to do the complex and time-consuming work of licensing e-resources. (see Best Practices)
  • Shared Expertise: HKN is a partnership of Alberta’s two largest universities. This partnership allows HKN to have access to the licensing and content expertise of every health sciences and allied health librarian at each university as well as the universities’ accounting and senior administrative staff expertise. This translates into significant financial savings through access to this expertise.