Objective: To describe a roadmap for developing a practice-based research network (PBRN) through the experience of conducting medication safety research projects in a primary care physician PBRN.
Setting: Southern Primary-care Urban Research Network (SPUR-Net) in Houston, Tex., from 2000 to 2007.
Practice description: SPUR-Net is a partnership of six health care organizations in Houston and includes 32 clinics with 313 primary care clinicians (50% family physicians, 25% general internists, and 25% pediatricians) who provide care for approximately 1 million patient encounters annually.
Practice innovation: The pharmacist principal investigator collaborates with physicians and researchers in primary care clinics to investigate medication safety practice in SPUR-Net.
Main outcome measures: (1) A roadmap for PBRN research and (2) initiation of a research program focusing on medication safety through the PBRN.
Results: A roadmap with 10 steps for conducting practice-based research is recommended: (1) form collaborative partnership, (2) develop research infrastructure, (3) formulate research questions, (4) design study methods, (5) obtain funding support, (6) develop study instruments, (7) implement the study, (8) manage and analyze data, (9) disseminate results, and (10) translate research into practice. Four research projects focusing on medication safety were conducted in SPUR-Net from 2002 to 2007. Medication outcomes include improved medication use, increased awareness for medication counseling, decreased medication errors, and identification of best practices for medication reconciliation.
Conclusion: Practice-based research conducted in primary care settings identifies, studies, and evaluates common problems encountered in busy clinic practice. With feedback from stakeholders, best practices and improved practice can be identified and "translated" back to practice. Grant funding for research projects helps sustain PBRNs. The implementation of medication safety research projects has helped primary care clinics, clinicians, and patients increase appropriate medication use and explore ways to further improve medication safety.