A model for the electronic support of practice-based research networks

Kevin A. Peterson, Brendan C. Delaney, Theodoros N. Arvanitis, Adel Taweel, Elisabeth A. Sandberg, Stuart Speedie, F. D. Richard Hobbs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


PURPOSE The principal goal of the electronic Primary Care Research Network (ePCRN) is to enable the development of an electronic infrastructure to support clinical research activities in primary care practice-based research networks (PBRNs). We describe the model that the ePCRN developed to enhance the growth and to expand the reach of PBRN research. METHODS Use cases and activity diagrams were developed from interviews with key informants from 11 PBRNs from the United States and United Kingdom. Discrete functions were identifi ed and aggregated into logical components. Interaction diagrams were created, and an overall composite diagram was constructed describing the proposed software behavior. Software for each component was written and aggregated, and the resulting prototype application was pilot tested for feasibility. A practical model was then created by separating application activities into distinct software packages based on existing PBRN business rules, hardware requirements, network requirements, and security concerns. RESULTS We present an information architecture that provides for essential interactions, activities, data fl ows, and structural elements necessary for providing support for PBRN translational research activities. The model describes research information exchange between investigators and clusters of independent data sites supported by a contracted research director. The model was designed to support recruitment for clinical trials, collection of aggregated anonymous data, and retrieval of identifi able data from previously consented patients across hundreds of practices. CONCLUSIONS The proposed model advances our understanding of the fundamental roles and activities of PBRNs and defi nes the information exchange commonly used by PBRNs to successfully engage community health care clinicians in translational research activities. By describing the network architecture in a language familiar to that used by software developers, the model provides an important foundation for the development of electronic support for essential PBRN research activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)560-567
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of family medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding support: This project was funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the National Institutes of Health, under contract No. HHS268N200425212C, “Re-engineering the Clinical Research Enterprise.”


  • Clinical trials
  • Community networks
  • Community-based participatory research
  • Comparative effectiveness research
  • Health information technology
  • Information systems
  • Integrated advanced information management systems
  • Medical informatics
  • Practice-based research networks
  • Primary care


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