Submission Type



Research Networks, Projects, Data Use and Quality


Background and Purpose: Primary care practice-based research has become more complex with increased use of electronic health records (EHRs). Little has been reported about changes in study planning and execution that are required as practices change from paper-based to electronic-based environments. We describe the evolution of a pediatric practice-based intervention study as it was adapted for use in the electronic environment, to enable other practice-based researchers to plan efficient, effective studies.

Methods: We adapted a paper-based pediatric office-level intervention to enhance parent-provider communication about subspecialty referrals for use in two practice-based research networks (PBRNs) with partially and fully electronic environments. We documented the process of adaptation and its effect on study feasibility and efficiency, resource use, and administrative and regulatory complexities, as the study was implemented in the two networks.

Results: Considerable time and money was required to adapt the paper-based study to the electronic environment, requiring extra meetings with institutional EHR-, regulatory-, and administrative teams, and increased practice training. Institutional unfamiliarity with using EHRs in practice-based research, and the consequent need to develop new policies, were major contributors to delays. Adapting intervention tools to the EHR and minimizing practice disruptions was challenging, but resulted in several efficiencies as compared with a paper-based project. In particular, recruitment and tracking of subjects and data collection were easier and more efficient.

Conclusions: Practice-based intervention research in an electronic environment adds considerable cost and time at the outset of a study, especially for centers unfamiliar with such research. Efficiencies generated have the potential of easing the work of study enrollment, subject tracking, and data collection.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.