Building a Pan-Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network: Initial Development and Moving Forward

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The development of a pan-Canadian network of primary care research networks for studying issues in primary care has been the vision of Canadian primary care researchers for many years. With the opportunity for funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada and the support of the College of Family Physicians of Canada, we have planned and developed a project to assess the feasibility of a network of networks of family medicine practices that exclusively use electronic medical records. The Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network will collect longitudinal data from practices across Canada to assess the primary care epidemiology and management of 5 chronic diseases: hypertension, diabetes, depression, chronic obstructive lung disease, and osteoarthritis. This article reports on the 7-month first phase of the feasibility project of 7 regional networks in Canada to develop a business plan, including governance, mission, and vision; develop memorandum of agreements with the regional networks and their respective universities; develop and obtain approval of research ethics board applications; develop methods for data extraction, a Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network database, and initial assessment of the types of data that can be extracted; and recruitment of 10 practices at each network that use electronic medical records. The project will continue in phase 2 of the feasibility testing until April 2010.

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