The coordination office

 

The coordination office of the Initiative of German Practice-Based Research Networks – DESAM-ForNet is jointly run by the German Foundation of General Practice and Family Medicine (DESAM) and the Technology and Methods Platform for Networked Medical Research e.V. (TMF) and began operations at the beginning of 2020.

The success of the Initiative is dependent on maintaining regionality. This is because the practice-based research networks (PBRNs) are made up of cooperating medical practices whose aim is to conduct research focused on delivering care to the patients they serve. The functionality of the network therefore requires the close cooperation of practitioners (in GP practices) with academicians (at local university institutes). Short travel times and close relationships facilitate such collaboration, as academicians can then maintain a visible presence within the community of practitioners. This enables them to remain aware of their practitioners’ needs and interests and to adapt procedures to ensure that general practice research remains feasible.

However, the number of participating practices is crucial when it comes to study design and methods. The more take part, the more statistical power in detecting even small effects. Furthermore, the ability to recruit a large number of practices of different types and sizes, and from diverse settings, increases the generalizability of results.

Cross-network collaboration expands the scope of possible projects and increases the likelihood of competing successfully for federal research funding. The coordination office functions as an integral component of the network coalition by providing a framework within which all sites define data in the same way and share common procedural standards. By overcoming the challenge of cross-network collaboration, it will be possible to lay the foundation for a sustainably financed research structure.

Tasks of the coordination office for the Initiative of German Practice-Based Research Networks – DESAM-ForNet

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Communication and Exchange

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IT infrastructure

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Compatibility with the Medical Informatics Initiative (TMF)

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Governance, Management, Organization

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Harmonization of IT development

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Data protection, ethical aspects

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Standardization of the research process

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Monitoring, research activities

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Dissemination

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Training, Education

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Patient participation

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External networking

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Communication and Exchange

One of the coordination office’s most important tasks is to provide communication structures that promote the exchange of information and collaboration. It offers comprehensive administration services and prepares meetings, sends out invitations, and moderates the steering committee and other network events involving research practices. By recording and sharing the results of these meetings, a continuous flow of information within the Initiative of German Practice-Based Research Networks is ensured.

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IT infrastructure

The creation of an IT infrastructure that enables the exchange of data and cross-network collaboration is a crucial aspect in ensuring the sustainability of the German Practice-Based Research Network – DESAM-ForNet.

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Compatibility with the Medical Informatics Initiative (TMF).

The coordinating body provides interoperability support and cooperates with the Medical Informatics Initiative (MII).

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Governance, Management, Organization

The aim of the coordination office’s work is to establish a sustainable infrastructure for the Initiative of German Practice-Based Research Networks – DESAM-ForNet.

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Harmonization of IT development

The use of IT in the regional research practice networks is harmonized via cross-network cooperation.

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Data protection, ethical aspects

The differing data security concepts used by the various networks within the Initiative have all been taken into account in order to develop a generic data protection concept that will support future research in the general practice setting.

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Standardization of the research process

By ensuring comparability and the validity of research data, common research standards open up opportunities for cross-network collaboration in the Initiative of German Practice-Based Research Networks – DESAM-ForNet.

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Monitoring, research activities

The participating networks share information on their infrastructure and their research under the umbrella of the Initiative.

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Dissemination

The coordination office ensures that information and results are communicated and disseminated, thus maintaining the visibility of the regional practice-based research networks and promoting the Initiative’s shared objectives.

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Training, Education

The development of a joint training concept for scientists and research practices ensures comparability within the Initiative of German Practice-Based Research Networks – DESAM-ForNet.

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Patient participation

The success of research projects largely depends on patient participation. To ensure trials are both feasible and effective, it is essential to include the patient perspective. Cross-network collaboration enables the development of a shared concept for patient participation.

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External networking

The creation of a sustainable cooperation structure involving national and international organizations and experts strengthens the Initiative of German Practice-Based Research Networks – DESAM-ForNet.