Strategies for working across Canadian practice-based research and learning networks (PBRLNs) in primary care: focus on frailty
Wong, Sabrina T.
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Abstract Background Practice based research and learning networks (PBRLNs) are groups of learning communities that focus on improving delivery and quality of care. Accurate data from primary care electronic medical records (EMRs) is crucial in forming the backbone for PBRLNs. The purpose of this work is to: (1) report on descriptive findings from recent frailty work, (2) describe strategies for working across PBRLNs in primary care, and (3) provide lessons learned for engaging PBRLNs. Methods We carried out a participatory based descriptive study that engaged five different PBRLNs. We collected Clinical Frailty Scale scores from a sample of participating physicians within each PBRLN. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze frailty scores and patients’ associated risk factors and demographics. We used the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research to inform thematic analysis of qualitative data (meeting minutes, notes, and conversations with co-investigators of each network) in recognizing challenges of working across networks. Results One hundred nine physicians participated in collecting CFS scores across the five provinces (n = 5466). Percentages of frail (11-17%) and not frail (82-91%) patients were similar in all networks, except Ontario who had a higher percentage of frail patients (25%). The majority of frail patients were female (65%) and had a significantly higher prevalence of hypertension, dementia, and depression. Frail patients had more prescribed medications and numbers of healthcare encounters. There were several noteworthy challenges experienced throughout the research process related to differences across provinces in the areas of: numbers of stakeholders/staff involved and thus levels of burden, recruitment strategies, data collection strategies, enhancing engagement, and timelines. Discussion Lessons learned throughout this multi-jurisdictional work included: the need for continuity in ethics, regular team meetings, enhancing levels of engagement with stakeholders, the need for structural support and recognizing differences in data sharing across provinces. Conclusion The differences noted across CPCSSN networks in our frailty study highlight the challenges of multi-jurisdictional work across provinces and the need for consistent and collaborative healthcare planning efforts.