March 2018 BC-PHCRN Update

It is finally spring and the BC-PHCRN has been busy in the months since our last update. Highlights from this period include facilitating the submission of a number of Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR) Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) Primary Integrated Health Care Innovations Network (PIHCIN) grant applications; hosting an exhibitor table at the Centre for Health Services and Policy Research (CHSPR) conference on March 8 and 9; releasing the Priorities for Research (PREFeR) survey to patients, providers and researchers; moving forward with some exciting work with the Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network (CPCSSN); and hiring a new BC-PHCRN Research Network Manager.

We look forward to telling you all about it below.

Please share this Update with interested colleagues, and get in touch with us with any questions.

In this Update

Progress on Funded Quick Strike, Knowledge Synthesis, and Comparative Program and Policy Analysis SPOR PIHCI Grants in BC

The SPOR PIHCI initiative awarded funding in 2015 and 2016 through three types of grant competition: Quick Strike (QS), Knowledge Synthesis (KS), and Comparative Program and Policy Analysis (CPPA). Two QS, two KS, and three CPPA grants with BC investigators were funded. Click here for updates on these projects.

In 2017, CIHR released two calls for grant proposals. Funding decisions for the first round of two-year Programmatic grants were made a few weeks ago, and although the BC-PHCRN supported five applications, none of these five proposals were funded by CIHR. The BC-PHCRN is reviewing the funded proposals to determine whether there are ways we can more effectively support researchers applying from BC. The deadline for the second round of KS and CPPA grant was March 6, and the BC-PHCRN supported two CPPA and four KS applications. We are very excited about these proposals and will keep you updated on the CIHR funding decisions.

Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network (CPCSSN)

CPCSSN is a pan-Canadian project studying and tracking eight chronic conditions using data from primary care electronic medical records. Recently, two new case definitions were validated (for paediatric asthma and herpes zoster), and a new definition for diabetes mellitus was added (derived from a machine learning study), while several more are in the final stages of verification. BC-CPCSSN has just completed its latest extraction cycle and now contains data on over 77,000 de-identified patients from 47 clinicians in 11 clinics across the province.

BC-CPCSSN also provides participating clinicians a pair of complementary web-based quality improvement (QI) tools. InQuIRE is an intuitive graphical tool for exploring the characteristics of a clinician’s patient panel and investigating indicators related to hypertension, diabetes, and depression. It is possible to explore dozens of indicators with the filtering options provided.

The Data Presentation Tool (DPT) offers unparalleled exploration of patient data and detailed feedback capabilities along with the ability to identify patients in the clinic. We are currently setting up the DPT in BC and we are looking forward to rolling it out with the latest data very soon.

BC-CPCSSN will be taking part in an exciting new pilot project to investigate how CPCSSN tools can play a role in connecting the various nodes of patient care. In addition to incorporating new clinics into CPCSSN, this will be a first step in implementing infrastructure and supporting data governance for program evaluation in the primary care network context. This will be done via cross-linked and de-identified information aggregated from both community providers and the health authority.

CPCSSN data are being used in the Frailty project described above, and for many other projects. Rita McCracken, MD, a UBC PhD candidate, is using CPCSSN data to complete her dissertation. She will be able to describe how high blood pressure is being treated, in people aged 70 and older who receive their care from CPCSSN clinicians. Early results suggest that <10% have a mean systolic blood pressure ≤ 120 mmHg. This group of people is of special interest to many clinicians and policy makers since the release of the SPRINT hypertension treatment target trial results, and the subsequent addition of a ≤ 120 mmHg “target” in the latest Canadian hypertension guidelines. She looks forward to sharing complete results in her dissertation and forthcoming publications.

New BC-PHCRN Staff

The BC-PHCRN welcomed its new Research Network Manager, Alexandra Warren, in January of this year. Although we were sad to see Melody Monro go, we are thrilled to welcome Alex to the team. Alex brings years of public policy and grant administration experience to the BC-PHCRN, as well as a Master’s degree from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and a Bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College in Boston, MA. Alex looks forward to working with decision-makers, researchers, patients, and clinicians to facilitate collaboration and help transform primary care, together.

If you have any questions for Alex about the BC-PHCRN and its activities, please do not hesitate to contact her at or 604.822.3226.

Priorities for Research Project (PREFeR)

UBC and SFU researchers were awarded a CIHR SPOR Patient-Oriented Research Collaboration grant in April 2017 to facilitate patient engagement in the research process. Despite the fact that much of primary care research focuses on studying patient needs and gaps in care, patients are not frequently included in prioritizing research ideas.

The goals of the project are to:

  1. Identify patient priorities for primary care research in BC;
  2. Build new projects and collaborations based on these priorities; and
  3. Help primary care researchers involve patients more actively in research.

To date, the researchers have undertaken the following activities:

  1. Built a panel of engaged patients, the BC-PHCRN Patient Advisory, to provide ongoing input on primary care research in BC;
  2. In partnership with the BC-PHCRN Patient Advisory, led the development of 10 patient-identified priority issues in primary health care;
  3. Created and disseminated surveys asking patients and primary care providers to rank those 10 priorities in terms of importance. The team also created a survey for researchers, asking about their upcoming research themes in primary care. The surveys were launched in February and the deadline for submissions is May 2018.

If you are interested in primary care research and you would like to fill out our surveys, please see the links below:

Are you a primary health care provider? If so, please fill out the provider survey.

If you are a resident of BC and have been to your doctor or walk-in clinic, please fill out the patient survey.

If you are a primary health care researcher in BC, please fill out the researcher survey.

In recent news, co-PIs Dr. Louisa Edwards and Dr. Ruth Lavergne have been selected to present orally on the PREFeR project at the 2018 CASHPR conference in Montréal. Congratulations Ruth, Louisa, the BC-PHCRN Patient Advisory and everyone else helping with this project!

In addition to its work with the PREFeR project, the BC-PHCRN Patient Advisory has also reviewed and ranked letters of intent requesting BC-PHCRN support for last fall’s SPOR PIHCI Programmatic grant competition, as well as this year’s Knowledge Synthesis and Comparative Program and Policy Analysis grants.

CHSPR Conference 2018

On March 7, 8 and 9, 2018 the Centre for Health Services and Policy Research (CHSPR) held its 30th annual health policy conference, “The System Awakens: Building Learning Health Systems in Canada,” with opening keynote speaker Charles Friedman from the University of Michigan. It was a great success, with hundreds of attendees, great speakers, and many opportunities for knowledge exchange and learning.

The BC-PHCRN held an exhibitor table at the conference, manned by the BC-PHCRN Network Manager, Alex, and the CPCSSN Data Manager, Andy. Alex and Andy served mandarin oranges and spoke to passers-by about the exciting ventures of CPCSSN and the BC-PHCRN.

The Research Lead for the BC-PHCRN, Dr. Sabrina Wong, facilitated a pre-conference workshop, “Using an Upstream Approach to Frailty in Seniors”. This workshop stemmed from the BC-PHCRN supported Quick Strike project, funded in 2015. The workshop was well-attended and included presentations by Dr. Tyler Williamson (University of Calgary), Annette Garm (Fraser Health Authority), and Dr. Rita McCracken (Providence Health Care).

The BC-PHCRN also supported five members from our Patient Advisory to attend the conference. One of these patient-partners also served as a panelist on a post-conference workshop where he and others had a rich discussion about the evolving ethics of research with Indigenous peoples in Canada.

For more information about the CHSPR 2018 conference visit the website, and check out the hashtags #CHSPR2018 or #CHSPRStarWars on Twitter!

About the BC-PHCRN

The BC Primary Health Care Research Network (BC-PHCRN) is one of 11 Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) Primary and Integrated Health Care Innovations (PIHCI) networks in Canadian jurisdictions designed to support evidence-informed transformation of the delivery of primary and integrated health care.

The goal of the BC-PHCRN is to encourage, facilitate, and support collaborations between government, health authorities, health professionals, patients and researchers. The BC-PHCRN aims to seek out, develop, and facilitate adoption of health care innovations to improve BC’s health care delivery system.

The BC-PHCRN is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.

BC-PHCRN is an open network and welcomes individuals from all sectors involved in primary health care – researchers, patients, health care providers and policy makers. To join, visit our website.

Follow us on Twitter @BC_PHCRN.

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