The Norwegian Primary Care Research Network (in Norwegian: PraksisNett) is a research infrastructure that provides a foundation for enhancing the quality of primary care research in Norway. The infrastructure facilitates recruitment of primary care patients to clinical studies and increases the power and predictability of these studies.
Each year about 70% of the Norwegian population visit their general practitioner (GP), and each year 15 million consultations are carried out. Most patients only rarely encounter secondary care; despite this, research in primary care is limited.
Since 2018, PraksisNett has built up a research network of 92 GP practices across the country, which together have more than 500,000 patients associated with them. The interest from GPs in joining PraksisNett has been great, and several GPs are on the waiting list to join.
Through the Snow technology, the GP practices that are part of PraksisNett are linked together through a secure computer network. The Snow technology can be used to extract aggregated data for planning studies, to create lists of patients for GPs of relevant patients who can participate in a study and to recruit patients to studies. This technology also ensures that the researchers can access anonymous individual data on the patients. Studies in PraksisNett are based on patient consent.
Researchers at organisations, institutions and companies who are interested in research on data from patients in GP practices can apply to use PraksisNett. Research projects that are submitted are assessed and quality assured by the management team.
Currently, there is no research infrastructure available enabling researchers to conduct clinical trials or otherwise access patients or patient data from primary health care in Norway. This results in very few studies, often with insufficient numbers of patients and/or severely delayed project. This challenge is positioned high on the national agenda. Primary Care Research Networks (PCRNs) are successful infrastructures for clinical research internationally, ensuring effective inclusion of patients and targets met on time. While today, only 3-4 studies/year that involve Norwegian general practice are registered in clinicaltrials.gov, the Scottish PCRN facilitates more than 60 studies annually, in a country with population and geographic structure comparable to Norway. This illustrates the huge potential for Norway. The planned Norwegian PCRN will motivate researchers to conduct clinical studies by facilitating predictable and secure access to GPs, patients and clinical data.
Our goals will be realized by a hierarchically organized infrastructure comprising two interdependent layers: A) A human resource-based infrastructure consisting of a coordinating node and four interlinked regional research networks with 90 associated clinical practices; and B) an advanced, secured IT infrastructure connecting nodes and clinical practices, and providing individual access to users for data extraction and processing. Both elements of the infrastructure were successfully piloted in 2016.
The Norwegian PCRN is a conjoined, nation-wide initiative, matured over several years. A long term goal is to link PCRN with future corresponding networks for other primary care professionals. We expect this infrastructure to result in better and higher number of clinical studies in Norway, including more extensive international collaboration.