National Center for Excellence in Primary Care Research

Revitalizing the Nation's primary care system is critical to achieving AHRQ's mission of improving the quality, safety, accessibility, equity, and affordability of health care. The Agency's authorizing legislation requires AHRQ to advance the field of primary care research and to establish a Center for this work. Logo for the National Center for Excellence in Primary Care Research

The National Center for Excellence in Primary Care Research (NCEPCR) is the intellectual home for primary care and primary care researchers across AHRQ. The NCEPCR is AHRQ's main point of contact with the primary care community, communicating the evidence from AHRQ's research—and how this evidence can be used to improve health and primary health care—to researchers, primary care professionals, health care decisionmakers, and patients and families. As the locus for the wide array of primary care-related activities within the Agency, the Center also provides opportunities for AHRQ scientists to share concepts, ideas, challenges, and emerging solutions.

Primary Care Research Initiatives

EvidenceNOW: Advancing Heart Health in Primary Care

EvidenceNOW: Advancing Heart Health in Primary Care is an AHRQ initiative to transform health care delivery by building a critical infrastructure to help smaller primary care practices apply the latest medical research and tools to improve the heart health of their patients.

Primary Care Transformation

AHRQ funded three grant initiatives to identify the difficulties faced by primary care practices as they transform into patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs) and to help create an infrastructure to assist them. Transforming Primary Care Practice grants studied the processes that primary care practices undertake as they transform into PCMHs. Infrastructure for Maintaining Primary Care Transformation (IMPaCT) grants funded State-level initiatives that provided a quality improvement infrastructure for primary care through primary care extension agents. Estimating the Costs of Supporting Primary Care Practice Transformation grants provided stakeholders with information about the costs of implementing and sustaining transformative primary care practice redesign.

Practice-Based Research Networks

  • Centers for Primary Care Practice-Based Research and Learning. AHRQ funded grants to establish these eight Centers. These collaborative centers are designed to examine innovative ways to improve the delivery and organization of primary care and to improve quality overall in primary care practices. The Centers nurture partnerships, conduct research, and disseminate knowledge to improve patient care.
  • Practice-based Research Network Resource Center. The PBRN RC provides resources and assistance to all registered primary care PBRNs engaged in clinical and health services research. The PBRN RC staff and experts offer support through informational resources, group learning experiences, and research tools.

Improving Primary Care

Primary care is the cornerstone of effective and efficient health care that meets the needs of patients, families, and communities. Our primary care system currently has significant—and perhaps unprecedented—opportunities to emphasize quality improvement (QI) and practice redesign in ways that could fundamentally improve health care in the United States. To ensure the success of these efforts, it is necessary to build and sustain the ability of primary care practices to engage in QI activities continuously and effectively.

Initiatives

Primary Care Medical Home. The primary care medical home, also referred to as the patient centered medical home (PCMH), advanced primary care, and the healthcare home, is a promising model for transforming the organization and delivery of primary care.
The Academy for Integrating Behavioral Health and Primary Care. AHRQ's Academy for Integrating Primary Care and Behavioral Health is a national resource center for people committed to providing comprehensive, integrated health care.
TeamSTEPPS Primary Care Version. The primary care version of TeamSTEPPS (Team Strategies & Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety) adapts the core concepts of the AHRQ/DoD TeamSTEPPS training and support program to work for primary care office-based teams. The examples, discussions, and information are tailored to primary care.

Tools

Care Coordination Measures Atlas. Care coordination is the active synchronization of patient care activities between two or more participants (including the patient) involved in a patient's care to help deliver appropriate health care services. This Atlas profiles more than 60 health care coordination measures designed to assess the experiences of patients and families, health care professionals, or system representatives, with a focus on primary care setting.
Atlas of Instruments to Measure Team-based Primary Care. Team-based care is an important component of many models of primary care transformation. The Atlas is designed for quality improvement (QI) practitioners responsible for primary care team QI initiatives, evaluators of interventions or initiatives to improve primary care teams, and researchers studying team-based primary care.
Clinical-Community Relationships Measures Atlas. The CCRM Atlas provides a framework for understanding the measurement of clinical-community relationships for researchers, evaluators, and primary care clinicians seeking guidance on using such relationships to provide preventive and other services with the aim of improving individual and population health.
Health Assessments in Primary Care: A How-to Guide for Clinicians and Staff. Obtaining periodic health assessments on patients provides an opportunity for primary care teams to get an overview of a patient's health status and health risks. This guide provides practical evidenced-based primary care teams to successfully adopt health assessments in primary care practices.

Integrating Chronic Care and Business Strategies in the Safety Net: A Practice Coaching Manual. Practice coaching can be an effective way to improve health care quality. This practice coaching manual can help improve clinical quality in an ambulatory health care setting. The manual accompanies a comprehensive Web-based toolkit, Integrating Chronic Care and Business Strategies in the Safely Net: A Toolkit for Primary Care Practices and Clinics.

Oral, Linguistic, and Culturally Competent Services. To address shifting demographic trends in health care, two guides offer approaches to defining cultural needs in managed care and developing appropriate services for them. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) commissioned both guides, which were developed by a contractor of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Self-Management Support Resource Library. These resources can help primary care teams learn about self-management support and help them help their patients develop self-management skills. The library includes articles, guides, patient information, reports, tools, and training materials.

Page last reviewed August 2015
Internet Citation: National Center for Excellence in Primary Care Research. August 2015. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/systems/primary-care/index.html