The UNSW electronic Practice Based Research Network

Project Short Title

Project Number
RM08190, RM06821, PS19584, PS17643

Project Status

Chief Investigators
Siaw-Teng Liaw, Mark Harris, Nicholas Zwar, Gawaine Powell-Davies, Elizabeth Comino, Sarah Dennis, Jeremy Bunker, Bin Jalaludin

Associate Investigators
Sanjyot Vagholkar, Katherine Moore

Other Team Members
Tom Chen


In the wake of growing health care needs of the ageing population, scarcity of resources and increasing costs of health care delivery in the management of chronic disease, many health systems have focused on promoting and monitoring safety, quality and cost-effectiveness – with the increasing recognition that up-to-date information and information technology is essential to achieve these goals. Routinely collected electronic health care data, aggregated into large databases, are increasingly being mined, linked and used for audit, continuous quality improvement in clinical care, health service planning, epidemiological study and evaluation research. It is in this context that practice-based research networks (PBRN) have existed in Europe and North America for over 25 years.


This study aims to establish the infrastructure for general practices and health services to extract, share and use clinical information to improve integrated care. We will examine the issues and challenges and explore the representativeness, validity and utility of the ePBRN for teaching, audit, evaluation and research purposes. We will also conduct preliminary research using the network.

Design and Method

A pilot study will be conducted at four sites (3 practices and 1 health service) to test the data extraction and linkage process, check the quality of the data and usefulness for research and quality assurance. Information about the process, challenges and degree of interest in the electronic research network within the practices and health service will be collected through interviews and observations. Protocols will be revised / further developed by the Research/Management team to inform the processes of data extraction and management. Up to 20 practices and health services will then be recruited. Data about the characteristics of the practices / services, implementation requirements and issues, and the challenges will be collected at 3 time points via a brief questionnaire, interviews and observations. A sample of patient data will be extracted from clinical systems using GRHANITE™ extraction and linkage software. The data from general practice and health services will be linked. The quality and accuracy of the linkage, the data quality and methods for analysing and interpreting the data will be explored.