The Practice-Based Research Network (PBRN) Resource Center serves as the operational base for developing new and supporting existing PBRNs in the South Texas region. The primary function of the PBRN Resource Center is to facilitate opportunities for collaboration between Health Science Center investigators and community clinicians to utilize the PBRN as their real world laboratory and to engage community clinicians in practice-based research. To accelerate the translation of clinical research into practice, new partnerships with clinicians who deliver the majority of care to the US population need to be supported. We are dedicated to transforming existing academic-community clinician relationships.
The PBRN Resource Center has supported communities of health practitioners in South Texas since 2008. STARNet (South Texas Ambulatory Research Network) and RRNet (Residency Research Network) have more than 25 years of combined experience in PBRN research, and have served as models for the development of new PBRNs. Our PBRN partners are key players in the IIMS’ Community Engagement efforts in South Texas.
A PBRN is an organization comprised of community clinicians and researchers, united by a shared commitment to:
- expand the science base of clinical care through studies conducted in their local clinic setting;
- answer research questions generated by a community clinician; and
- better understand health issues in their community clinical settings.
PBRNs have been described by the Institute of Medicine as a promising laboratory for transforming the relationship between academic researchers and community clinicians.
The PBRN infrastructure expansion model is based on the agricultural extension agent model, with “Practice Enhancement Research Coordinators (PERCs)” taking on the role of the extension agent.
PERCs are “circuit riders” who develop a relationship with a group of practices over a period of time to help them to evaluate and improve their quality of care.
This is generally accomplished through practice audits and feedback, patient satisfaction surveys, staff training, “cross-fertilization” (sharing of ideas among the eight practices), coordination of quality improvement initiatives, and provision of specific materials and resources (flow sheets, computer training, etc.).
A PERC also functions as a research assistant, making it easier for practices to participate in research projects undertaken by the PBRN. Also known as “practice facilitators,” this model of combining practice assistance with research has proven to be extremely successful in both Oklahoma and Oregon PBRNs.