San Francisco Bay Collaborative Research Network: Building Partnerships for Research In Practice Improvement and Population Health

More than 125 researchers and healthcare leaders gathered at UC San Francisco’s Mission Bay Campus on May 11 to network and share opportunities to build research partnerships that can transform health care outcomes in our diverse Bay Area communities. The occasion marked the third annual stakeholder meeting of the San Francisco Bay Area Collaborative Research Network. SFBayCRN is the practice-based research arm of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) and its Community Engagement and Health Policy program. It includes stakeholders from a cross-section of UCSF practice-based researchers, community-based clinical stakeholders, and health care innovators from public and private organizations across the Bay Area.

QA session with keynote speaker Andrew Bindman, MD, and Kevin Grumbach, MD, director of CTSI's Community Engagement & Health Policy Program

The day began with a keynote address by Andrew Bindman, MD, former director of the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) on the promise of “Learning Health Systems”, in which practice-based research becomes aligned with medical informatics, clinical incentives, and the culture of healthcare to develop, deploy and assess interventions that can more rapidly bring data to knowledge (D2K) and transform knowledge to practice (K2P).  This was followed by four panel discussions devoted to current SFBayCRN initiatives and priorities of special relevance to CTSI’s objective of building and supporting robust community engaged research partnerships in our region.

This meeting showcased the tremendous benefits that can accrue to our diverse Bay Area communities when we collaborate at the intersection of research, practice, and population health. Through SFBayCRN and other CTSI-supported programs, UCSF is well positioned to work with community partners to realize this vision.

Michael Potter, MD

Director, SFBayCRN,
UCSF School of Medicine

Highlights from Panel Discussions:

Community‐Engaged Participant Recruitment for Practice‐Based Research: What should it look like and what could make it possible? 
In this session, Vanessa Jacoby, MD, MAS director of the CTSI Participant Recruitment program presented new resources that will enable patients in any clinical setting to access opportunities to become research participants. Dean Schillinger, MD,  discussed the principles of community-based participatory research and the extent to which participant recruitment can or should be facilitated through partnerships by community stakeholders, including larger private healthcare organizations with access to clinical data or community health centers which have deep roots and strong relationships with diverse communities that are often underrepresented in research.  Terry Hill, MD, from Hill Physicians and Ricardo Alvarez, MD, from Mission Neighborhood Health Center presented the community point of view. Several participants acknowledged the challenges in overcoming barriers of community mistrust and limited bandwidth of healthcare organizations to research participation.  A goal of SFBayCRN’s consultation service is to increase awareness and help researchers learn to bridge some of these barriers.  An outcome of this panel will be an exploration of opportunities to deploy CTSI’s new trial finder tool in selected community-based clinical settings.

Mapping Disease Hotspots to Inform Practice‐Based Interventions: Ideas and examples from population health and research. 

Disease Hotspots panelists: L-R, Marsha Treadwell, PhD, Mahasin Mujahid, PhD, MS, Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, MD, MAS, PhD, Valy Fontil, MD, MAS, MPH, Rajiv Pramanik, MD, Associate Chief Medical Informatics Officer at ZSFG standing w/ the microphone, and Mark Pletcher, MD, MPH at the podium.

The availability of statewide disease registries now makes it possible to envision research collaborations bridging multiple health systems and community-based organizations to transform and improve the way care is delivered in emergency settings and coordinated with primary care. Marsha Treadwell, PhD, and Susan Paulukonis, MA, MPH, presented the NHLBI-funded Sickle Cell Care Coordination Initiative, which seeks to do exactly this for the care of adolescents and adults with sickle cell disease.  The discussion of this project provided an opportunity to inform community stakeholders of the project and identify opportunities to collaborate.  Identifying disease hotspots is becoming a powerful new way to understand how neighborhood factors can influence the diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes for common diseases such as hypertension. Mark Pletcher, MD, MPH, Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, MD, MAS, PhD, MAS, Valy Fontil, MD, MAS, MPH, and Mahasin Mujahid, PhD, MS, outlined ideas to develop a regional hypertension database enhanced with geospatial data to facilitate community-based interventions that might address persistent disparities that are not addressed by currently configured health care delivery systems.  The discussion allowed for several healthcare organizations to ask questions and share their interest in collaborating in this work.

Social Determinants of Health and Health Disparities Data – Definitions and utility in precision medicine, clinical practice, and practice-based research. 
Following on a related theme, this panel explored the emerging awareness of the importance of how the conditions in which people are born, live, work, and age affect outcomes, and how this awareness ought to inform practice-based research and the delivery of health care. Nancy Adler, PhD, a co-author of the Institute of Medicine report on how social determinants of health could be captured in electronica health records, provided an overview of the topic, and Sara Levin, MD, explained how Contra Costa County is making use of these underused data to address health disparities in medically underserved communities. Laura Gottlieb, MD, MPH presented an agenda for more robust practice-based research in this area.  Discussion focused on opportunities for greater stakeholder collaboration in this area.

Using Big Data, Health Information Exchanges and Electronic Health Records Data to Improve Health Making the most of shared data in research and clinical practice
The final panel focused on different ways that “big data” is opening up new vistas in health care innovation and practice based research. Bela Matyas, MD, MPH from the Solano county Department of Health, discussed Health Information Exchanges and how they have enabled health systems to improve health care quality, Rick Larsen from UCSF’s Academic Research Systems discussed resources at UCSF that enable researchers to gain access to big data, and Atul Butte, MD, PhD provided his vision of the future of digital innovation and its expected impact on both research and clinical practice.

In the final session, Kevin Grumbach, MD, co-director of the Community Engagement and Health Policy program at UCSF and Jack Westfall, MD, MPH, director of the Community Engagement program at the University of Colorado provided a summation of insights from the presentations and there was group reflection on lessons of the day – which included the value of stronger relationships that can facilitate mutually beneficial partnerships at the intersection of research, practice, and population health and opportunities for UCSF-CTSI to support this vision in the SF Bay Area.

SFBayCRN is the practice-based research arm of CTSI and its Community Engagement and Health Policy program.  

See Live Tweets from the #SFBayCRN event here

Learn more about SFBayCRN's Consultation Service


To learn more about SFBayCRN, how you or your organization can become a member, or to obtain assistance with your practice-based research proposals and projects, please contact us:

Michael Potter, MD – Director, SF Bay CRN
James Rouse Iñiguez, MA – Navigator, SF Bay CRN