The practice of medicine, particularly within primary care, gives physicians and other care providers the opportunity to see and treat a wide array of patient conditions. As far back as the 1800s, general practitioners noted that they did not always feel well prepared to handle all the challenges they encountered. To address this, a small number of them employed the scientific method to study and learn from what they saw in their practices and shared that information.
By the 1980s, a small but growing number of primary care providers banded together to learn and share with one another. Their goal was to improve the health outcomes for their patients and the communities they served. By the mid-1990s, almost 200 Practice Based Research Networks (PBRNs) existed across the United States.
Today, PBRNs primarily study primary care, but others are devoted to the study of specific populations, regions, and even modalities of care. For example, some PBRNs study osteopathic manipulation, women’s health, dietetics, scoliosis, nursing leadership, dental care, pediatrics, developmental disabilities, and more. The Kansas Education and Research Network is a research body within Kansas Health Science Center, focused on primary care practice and issues that affect Kansas health care providers and their patients.