ROK-Net: Rural Oklahoma Network
A Practice-Based Research Network
The Rural Oklahoma Network (ROK-Net) is a synergistic effort of the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences (CHS), including its Department of Family Medicine and Center for Rural Health, and the OSU Spears School of Business’ Center for Health Systems Innovation (CHSI). It will be headquartered at the OSU CHS campus in Tulsa. Although nearly 175 similar networks exist across the country, ROK-Net is one of a handful devoted exclusively to rural health.
ROK-Net provides an infrastructure for the development of peer learning networks comprised of rural clinicians and providers, OSU researchers and innovators, and community partners. These networks study recurring problems in rural primary care and develop resources and quality improvement initiatives in response to findings. Providers play an instrumental role in shaping research and development efforts to ensure relevance and application to daily practice.
ROK-Net Core Values:
- Strong relationships among participants
- Leadership by rural healthcare providers
Vision: Disparities in health status between rural and non-rural populations no longer exist in Oklahoma.
Mission: Create an alliance of rural primary care providers to identify and implement solutions to address rural Oklahoma health challenges.
Goal: Expedite efforts to discover, develop, and implement insights and resources vital to effective care in rural Oklahoma.
- Increase resources available to rural practices
- Help rural practitioners operate as efficiently as possible
- Improve access to care in rural communities
- Encourage clinicians to practice in rural areas
Interested in joining ROK-Net?
ROK-Net has high aspirations for advancing rural health delivery and decreasing rural health disparities. Its first initiative is to identify resources that will be most impactful to current rural primary care practice.
ROK-Net aims to break down barriers to healthcare delivery faced by primary care clinicians in rural communities. Constraints range from operational efficiency to care strategies for rural patients to those issues deemed most critical by our rural members. As demonstrated in the following map, nearly all of rural Oklahoma faces shortages of primary healthcare providers. The Health Resources and Services Administration defines health professional shortage areas (HPSA) as communities with 3,500 or more residents served by a single primary care provider, making it difficult if not impossible for providers to address barriers without support.
Practice-based Research Networks (PBRN) are recognized by and registered with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). These networks are “groups of primary care clinicians and practices working together to answer community-based healthcare questions and translate research findings into practice. PBRNs engage clinicians in quality improvement activities and an evidence-based culture in primary care practice to improve the health of all Americans.”
PBRNs have experienced dramatic growth since their inception in the early ’90s. These networks are emerging as critical agents of change for primary care clinics by proactively developing quality improvement, innovation and research initiatives critical to the changing demands on practices and quickly respond to funding opportunities to sustain clinic infrastructure and innovations.
• Involvement with a group of rural peers to share challenges and best practices
• Opportunities to collaborate with and lend expertise to health innovation researchers
• Connections with quality improvement specialists to accelerate insights into practice
• Invitations to attend ROK-Net meetings
• Access to ROK-Net resources identified and developed through membership feedback
• Close relationship with the OSU CHSI.
Ultimately, there are many ways ROK-Net members can engage with the network and fellow members. As depicted below, three primary means of participation include identifying salient challenges and solutions and testing innovations.
Members will dedicate themselves to solving intricate problems and devote time for network activities. There are two types of memberships: Active and Advising.
Active Members, who will have access to ROK-Net resources, are clinicians currently providing primary care in rural Oklahoma. The expectations of these members are listed below.
• Participate in member surveying, strategic planning and project prioritization
• Help design resources ROK-Net can share with rural practitioners
• Attend, when possible, meetings and forums coordinated by ROK-Net
• Engage with ROK-Net in defining, testing or refining research and innovations
• Consider executive positions on the ROK-Net board of directors.
Advising Members are clinicians who are unable to participate as active members due to circumstances such as retirement or practicing in non-rural areas, yet would like to devote time and consultation for events and strategic planning. The expectations of these members are the same as the above, with the exception of engaging their clinical practice in ROK-Net activities.
Dear Rural Oklahoma Primary Care Provider,
As a valued provider of primary care in rural Oklahoma, we invite you to participate in the Rural Oklahoma Network (ROK-Net).
ROK-Net and its members will share knowledge, develop resources, and conduct research designed specifically to benefit rural clinicians and the rural communities they serve. Networks, like ROK-Net, have demonstrated how alliances of healthcare providers, academic researchers, innovators, and quality improvement specialists can rapidly generate and implement healthcare solutions.
ROK-Net is a collaborative endeavor of the Oklahoma State University (OSU) Center for Health Sciences, including its Department of Family Medicine and Center for Rural Health, and the OSU Spears School of Business’ Center for Health Systems Innovation.
It should be noted that ROK-Net is led by its members and the priorities and projects ultimately will be defined by those members in order to meet their needs.
At OSU, we are dedicated to rural health and rural providers. Because rural healthcare delivery is faced with its own set of unique patient care and operational challenges, ROK-Net needs your rural expertise and your partnership.
Please join us in building this exciting new network.