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The WPRN is a regional practice-based research network of over 50 primary care clinics. Its mission is to improve the health and well-being of patients in their communities, through the conduct of collaborative research that informs and enhances primary care clinical practice.

The WPRN includes a collaborative group of primary care practices and providers (mostly family medicine) in the 5-state WWAMI region: Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, Idaho. WPRN practices are diverse entities, including community health centers, private practices, and university-affiliated and government-operated clinics. This diversity of geography and practice type allows the WPRN to reach many rural and underserved populations. The WPRN studies topics such as chronic disease management and prevention, medication safety, practice improvement, behavioral health, and cancer screening.

The WPRN also works to advance the use of electronic health data for research, via Data QUEST, an electronic health data sharing architecture across a subset of WPRN practices. This technical infrastructure enables sharing of data from the electronic health records (EHRs) of participating practices for all types of research, including comparative effective studies and randomized controlled trials.

The WPRN is led by its Director Dr. Laura-Mae Baldwin and by a Steering Committee comprised of representatives from member practices.

WPRN initiatives and infrastructure are funded through grants and by the Institute of Translational Health Sciences and the University of Washington Department of Family Medicine. Recent sponsors of WPRN research have included the Pharmacogenomics Research Network and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. WPRN studies have led to peer-reviewed publications in journals such as Family Medicine and Clinical and Translational Science.

Brief History of the WPRN

The WPRN was developed between 2007-2011 through a partnership of the University of Washington’s Institute of Translational Health Sciences (ITHS) and the UW Family Medicine Residency Network (FMRN). One of the ITHS’s goals, to create a practice-based research network in the WWAMI states, aligned with the FMRN’s 2006-2008 strategic goal to build research capacity within its network.

Between 2009 and 2011, seven FMRN sites worked with faculty and staff from the ITHS (what is now the WPRN Coordinating Center) to conduct a pilot study (“ACE-Is, ARBs, Statins and Contraception”) that built research capacity at the sites and “tested the waters” of research. In 2011 the WPRN was born from this important groundwork, and began to expand to community practices beyond the Family Medicine Residency Network.