Research in Primary Care Setting Bolstered By Government Contract

05/16/2007

For several years the Pediatric Research Consortium (PeRC) at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has worked to improve the safety, quality and health outcomes of pediatric care through clinical research in the ambulatory setting.

PeRC aims to improve children's health by examining clinical questions that, when answered through rigorous scientific methods, will improve the delivery of primary care to children and families. To accomplish these aims the PeRC connects investigators and clinical practices that best meet their study needs.

A primary care practice-based research network (PBRN) originally funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the PeRC has used the Hospital's expanding organizational and technological infrastructure to assemble the largest pediatric integrated delivery system in the country. Today, that system includes a primary pediatric healthcare network of the Hospital's primary care centers, faculty practice and more than 30 Kids First practices.

PeRC provides high-quality research based on the clinical needs of all primary care practices within the Children's Hospital network, and works to develop the current information systems into a system that can function over a wide range of purposes, including clinical care, education, research, and evaluation.

The critical link between the clinical research facilitated by the PeRC and improved outcomes for children in the ambulatory setting was recently underscored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which awarded the PBRN one of 10 contracts to serve as a National Practice Based Research Network Master Contractor.

The aim of the Master Contractors is to understand what is happening in community-based primary care practices and how those practices can support initiatives to improve patient care. Children's Hospital is the sole pediatric PBRN awarded a contract.

Under the three-year contract, Louis Bell, M.D., who directs the Hospital's PBRN, and his colleagues will engage in rapid turn-around research leading to new knowledge and information that contributes to improved primary care practice.

As a contract recipient, Children's Hospital is uniquely positioned to bid on AHRQ task orders for research addressing pressing questions on the appropriate care of health conditions seen in primary care settings, or to assess a technology, product, tool or primary care delivery strategy proposed for the healthcare system. Task orders from the AHRQ are expected to range between $100,000 and $300,000 each.

The demand-driven, practical and applied research topics proposed by AHRQ and conducted in community-based settings are expected to have strong external validity and, once disseminated, to be readily adopted in the primary-care setting.