The History of Southeast Regional Clinicians Network

SERCN is a practice based research network working to improve quality of care and outcomes to medically underserved patients in the Southeastern United States. Our network includes clinicians working in federally qualified health centers and directors of state primary care associations located in the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

These states are home to 221 FQHCs serving 3.4 million patients. These clinics compose the primary care safety net in the region and provide comprehensive primary care, dental, and mental health services to a high-risk population that is disproportionately poor, minority, and medically underserved.

At the time of the network’s inception, the National Center for Primary Care (NCPC) had helped facilitate the formation of several state-level clinician research networks in partnership with regional state PCAs in the 1980s. The regional state group that collectively represents the state Primary Care Associations is known as the Southeast Health Care Consortium, and serves to connect providers, executive leaders, and the community based governing boards, whose makeup is required to maintain a community-majority. The network was founded officially as a Practice Based Research Network with seed grant funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in 1995.

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Over the years, this network has served as an organizing structure for regional clinical conferences focused on primary care in underserved communities, and for structuring a practice-based research network. Our research to date has been of two types: (1) survey research to bring a voice to front-line clinician perspectives on unmet resource needs; and (2) practical interventions identified by stakeholders to potentially improve quality of care and outcomes for patients with high-prevalence, high-disparity chronic conditions. We are also a part of a larger “network of networks” known as The Primary Care Multiethnic Network (PRIME-Net). This broader group is made up of practice based research networks across the US focused on traditionally underrepresented and underserved populations.

Currently the NCPC is conducting a reassessment of the needs of FQHCs and PCAs throughout the region with the goal of developing a needs based research agenda and bolstering our communication infrastructure, and engaging clinicians and PCA leadership.

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