The University of Toronto Practice-Based Research Network (UTOPIAN) is a network of over 1400 family physicians in practices within the 14 DFCM academic sites throughout the GTA and beyond. It has been established in 2012 with the aim to conduct and support high quality research to better serve the primary care community and patient population, and to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of services offered by the healthcare system as well as securing lasting improvements to health nationally and internationally. The network brings together DFCM researchers, primary care clinicians and practices from all its academic sites to answer important healthcare questions and translate findings into practice.
Practice-based research networks engage clinicians in research, quality improvement and an evidence-based culture to improve health. The patient population in UTOPIAN’s practices reflects the ethnic, economic, and social diversity of southern Ontario. UTOPIAN recognizes the potential of Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) as these provide the most comprehensive set of longitudinal patient health data of family physicians and are unique resource for medical research that is relevant to the reality of healthcare in Ontario and generalizable to patients internationally. EMRs hold patient-specific clinical information that is not available through the administrative health databases housed at ICES (e.g.: patient-specific laboratory results; biometrics such as BMI and BP; family history potentially related to genetic predisposition to diseases; medication duration, dose and frequency; lifestyle information such as smoking, exercise, and diet). As a ‘living laboratory’ for research in the community UTOPIAN can be used for a variety of purposes including evaluation of our healthcare system, quality improvement activities, identification of potential study subjects for clinical research, patient recruitment to longitudinal cohort studies such as the Ontario Health Study, and the full range of clinical research including clinical trials.
UTOPIAN is one of the largest and most representative primary care research networks in North America, and amongst the largest in the world. This is a bold initiative that will have important implications for improving the health of patients in UTOPIAN practices, and producing internationally relevant clinical research. Important steps have been taken and milestones accomplished to make the enterprise realistic and feasible.
Note: DFCM is currently in a process of creating a new website, which should be published in early Summer 2016 and will contain extended information. Contact Ivanka Pribramska, UTOPIAN Research Administrator, if the information you are looking for is not here or if you have any queries about UTOPIAN.
Research News & Events
The Research Program is currently accepting applications for the Graduate Research Studies Award. The deadline is Friday, June 12th. Please click here for details.