Network History

The South Texas Ambulatory Research Network (STARNet) was founded in 1992 by Walter L. Calmbach, MD, MPH. Michael L. Parchman, MD, MPH became Director of Research for the Network in 1999 and as of 2012, its directorship was passed on to Dr. Calmbach.  The mission of STARNet is "to conduct and disseminate practice-based research that results in new knowledge and improves the health of patients in South Texas." This Practice Based Research Network (PBRN) has 165 practitioners in 108 primary care practices, primarily small group practices or solo clinicians.

STARNet physicians and their offices represent approximately 800,000 patient visits each year. Patients of Hispanic ethnicity comprise 55% of these visits. Practices are located in and around the city of San Antonio, located in urban, suburban, and rural areas. In 2011, STARNet’s membership expanded further South, to the Lower Rio Grande Valley and Corpus Christi communities.

Most STARNet patients have health insurance, either employer-funded or government-funded. The patient population is largely insured middle- to upper middle-class population comprised largely of Hispanic and Non-Hispanic white patients. Over the years, STARNet has addressed multiple problems seen in primary care practice including panic attacks, exercise in the elderly, intimate partner violence, MRSA, quality and outcomes of care for type-2 diabetes, and facilitating change in small primary care practices.

STARNet has been funded by the Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ), the US Hispanic Nutrition Center, National Institute on Aging (NIA), National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney (NIDDK) Diseases, and several local and national foundations. Studies conducted in STARNet have led to multiple peer-reviewed publications in journals such as Diabetes Care, Medical Care and the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

An NIDDK funded the R34 award, Translational Research Planning Grants study (R34 DK067300) which was completed by STARNet former Director (and former Community Engagement leader), Michael L. Parchman, MD, MPH. This study was conducted within STARNet to test the feasibility and logistics of an intervention to prevent complications from type-2 diabetes among patients seen in primary care settings. The Planning Grant results led directly to the funding of an R18 Translational Research Grant (R18 DK075692) for a large cluster-randomized trial currently underway to test this intervention in 40 STARNet clinics. This clearly documents STARNet’s capacity to coordinate sustainable collaborations and ability to conduct NIH funded practice based research with community physicians and their patients.