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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, hospital-system affiliated, and government-operated clinics. This diversity of geography and practice type allows the WPRN to reach many rural and underserved populations.

The WPRN also works to advance the use of electronic health record (EHR) data for research, via Data QUEST, an infrastructure developed by the Institute of Translational Health Sciences for sharing EHR data for research across diverse, community-based primary care practices in the WPRN. The Data QUEST infrastructure in this subset of WPRN practices enables sharing EHR data to facilitate participation in all types of research, including comparative effective studies and randomized controlled trials.

The WPRN is led by Dr. Laura-Mae Baldwin and a Steering Committee comprised of representatives from member practices.  The WPRN Coordinating Center is supported by the Institute of Translational Health Sciences. Other support comes from the University of Washington Department of Family Medicine and funded grants.

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 region, 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 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.