Established in 2009 by the ETSU Department of Family Medicine, the Appalachian Research Network (AppNET) is a collaborative network of academic researchers and community-based health care practitioners, most of whom serve as part-time faculty with the Department. AppNET’s mission is to conduct and support practice-based research to improve the quality of rural primary care delivered in the region and work toward the goal of eliminating health disparities of the people of South Central Appalachia.
With the support of a $1.2 million Academic Administrative Units grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), AppNET members are currently conducting a five-year project to help improve the quality of health care, with an emphasis on cultural competency, health literacy, and health disparities in rural underserved areas. Dr. Fred Tudiver, who serves as Network Director for AppNET and Director of Primary Care Research in the Department of Family Medicine, is the Principal Investigator and Project Director.
Primary care providers in Appalachia and other rural areas in the United States address nearly all aspects of patient care. One way to improve health status is to train primary care physicians in skills needed to complete quality improvement projects, enabling them to evaluate and improve quality of care through the development of new evidence-based protocols and interventions. Some of AppNET's activities to date are:
Developing and implementing a quality improvement (QI) curriculum, including peer mentoring, for community-based faculty physicians who are members of AppNET
Using Practice Enhancement Assistants to train physicians and staff and assist them in conducting QI projects
Establishing an AppNET Quality Improvement Steering Committee with representatives including provider and communtiy partners invested in Quality Improvement.
Developing QI selectives for third-year medical students and establishing medical student preceptor sites for QI projects across the network.
The HRSA-funded project will enable the Appalachian Research Network to partner with the Quillen College of Medicine to serve as a regional resource for testing interventions in South Central Appalachia. Knowledge gained from these efforts will be directly applicable not only to this region, but also to other areas of the country.