Development and Early Experience of a Primary Care Learning Collaborative in a Large Health Care System

Rodney Erickson, Abd Moain Abu Dabrh, Augustine Chavez, Valeria Cristiani, Ramona DeJesus, Susan Laabs, Richard Presutti, Steven Rosas, Erin Westfall, Terrance Witt, Thomas Thacher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Primary care clinicians are presented with hundreds of new clinical recommendations and guidelines. To consider practice change clinicians must identify relevant information and develop a contextual framework. Too much attention to information irrelevant to one’s practice results in wasted resources. Too little results in care gaps. A small group of primary care clinicians in a large health system sought to address the problem of vetting new information and providing peer reviewed context. This was done by engaging colleagues across the system though a primary care learning collaborative. Methods: The collaborative was a grass roots initiative between community and academic-based clinicians. They invited all the system’s primary care clinicians to participate. They selected new recommendations or guidelines and used surveys as the principal communication instrument. Surveys shared practice experience and also invited members to give narrative feedback regarding their acceptance of variation in care relate to the topic. A description of the collaborative along with its development, processes, and evolution are discussed. Process changes to address needs during the COVID-19 pandemic including expanded information sharing was necessary. Results: Collaborative membership reached across 5 states and included family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics. Members found involvement with the collaborative useful. Less variation in care was thought important for public health crises: the COVID pandemic and opioid epidemic. Greater practice variation was thought acceptable for adherence to multispecialty guidelines, such as diabetes, lipid management, and adult ADHD care. Process changes during the pandemic resulted in more communications between members to avoid practice gaps. Conclusion: An internet-based learning collaborative in a health system had good engagement from its members. Using novel methods, it was able to provide members with feedback related to the importance of new practice recommendations as perceived by their peers. Greater standardization was thought necessary when adopting measures to address public health crisis, and less necessary when addressing multispecialty guidelines. By employing a learning collaborative, this group was able to keep members interested and engaged. During the first year of the COVID pandemic the collaborative also served as a vehicle to share timely information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Primary Care and Community Health
StatePublished - 2022


  • COVID learning
  • collaborative learning
  • contextual learning
  • practice variation
  • primary care learning collaborative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Community and Home Care
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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