Our next PBLN event is a brainstorming session about how we can use electronic health record data to create new decision-support tools. This will kick off a research project that builds on and applies the learnings from Dr. Jaky Kueper's research.
An essential component of the Alliance’s LHS is the EPIC Practice-Based Learning Network (PBLN), which was launched in November 2020.
A PBLN is a group of primary healthcare providers who work together to explore challenges, develop and share innovations, and use their practice-based data to measure drive improvement. Members of a PBLN support each other through mentorship and knowledge-sharing, and they participate in collective and independent research and quality improvement projects.
The EPIC PBLN consists mostly of providers working in Alliance-member organizations. It exists alongside seven regionally based PBLNS that are affiliated with academic institutions around the province. Like them, the EPIC PBLN has the potential to provide knowledge and decision support to Ontario Health Teams. However, it stands out because it is interprofessional and province-wide in scope, reflecting the diversity of our membership. It is not affiliated with a university but is grounded in community. And it has a mandate to advance health equity.
The EPIC PBLN is built on the foundation of a common EMR, shared data standards, and data aggregation through our Business Intelligence Reporting Tool (BIRT). This means it is able to generate a robust body of consistent, comparable, and combinable data. Such data can be used to look for patterns and evaluate the effectiveness of interventions through large-scale, real-world clinical trials.
POPLAR: A Network of Networks
An emerging meta-network of PBLNs, the Primary Care Ontario Learning and Research (POPLAR) Network, will enable all of Ontario’s PBLNs to collaborate and learn from each other. POPLAR will be administered through UTOPIAN, the University of Toronto’s PBLN. De-identified practice data from Alliance member centres who have signed the data-sharing agreement with UTOPIAN will be shared to POPLAR through BIRT.
POPLAR, through UTOPIAN, will be a data safe-haven for all of Ontario’s PBLNs, bringing together de-identified practice data from all primary care sectors, linked to health system usage data from ICES. This data will be securely stored and controlled. Members of the POPLAR PBLN will be able to access it for approved learning and improvement projects, but they will have to submit a formal request and demonstrate that their projects meet ethical guidelines. Providers will be able to securely re-identify their own clients’ data to determine who might benefit from an innovation or improvement.