Introducing the meta-network
for practice-based research
By David Katerndahl, M.D.
Chair, Research Grants Committee
The value of primary care physicians joining together to participate in practice-based research is now an accepted reality. In fact, the value of such practice-based research networks (PBRNs) joining together into a collaborative meta-network is also becoming an accepted reality. In recognition of this opportunity, the TAFP Foundation brokered a meeting of the eight PBRNs in Texas during the recent Interim Session to explore the feasibility of working together (see table).
The challenges facing such a meta-network can be daunting. Not only are these networks in competition for research funding, but they differ in the educational level and languages of patient participants. However, there are obvious opportunities if such a meta-network could be established. Collaboration across networks would allow networks to share interests and expertise as well as complement demographic weaknesses. By collaborating, research that would be difficult for a geographically-limited, technologically-homogenous network to conduct becomes possible. Hence, a meta-network in Texas could pursue research on comparisons of electronic health record systems and definitions of the patient-centered medical home. It could facilitate longitudinal surveillance of cancer patients and assessment of geographic distributions of disease.
The group plans to continue regular meetings and listserv communication while beginning its work by creating a database describing each PBRN and by identifying foundations that focus their support on research in Texas.