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ORPRN's mission is to improve health outcomes and equity for all Oregonians through community partnered dialogue, research, coaching, and education.
ORPRN is committed to building and sustaining a diverse, equitable, inclusive and anti-racist organization. We do so by evaluating how we develop and support our workforce, the partnerships we uphold and how we engage in community-partnered dialogue, research, coaching and education throughout Oregon.
Message from Nancy Elder, ORPRN Director
ORPRN: Emerging from the pandemic an improved research center
ORPRN is rightfully known as a leader in using practice facilitation for research, quality improvement and transformation. Working “on the ground,” face-to-face and hand-in-glove with the practices we serve is one of our most important tools — or at least it was before 2020. The pandemic put an end to in-person visits, conversations, meetings and observations and forced us all to scramble for solutions.
As the pandemic continued into more than just a few months' “pause,” we strove to create the best virtual facilitation possible. Luckily, like us, primary care clinicians and staff were becoming more proficient in the burgeoning number of platforms for online communication. Now, as we take more and more steps over the threshold of the COVID-19 pandemic, I want to share some successes that have come out of these difficult months — and some changes we made that will ultimately strengthen our organization.
- Virtual group training sessions allow greater participation, as participants do not need additional time or money for travel. Tools such as breakout rooms and virtual annotation encourage involvement by participants in learning activities.
- Virtual interviews and small focus groups have proven as effective as in-person equivalents for several of our projects.
- When overwhelmed practice staff could no longer take on responsibilities for research or improvement projects, ORPRN projects, such as Accountable Health Communities, quickly retooled, hiring a number of student research assistants to support health systems and clinics in screening patients for social needs.
- Oregon ECHO Network faculty teams, rather than gathering in one room, logged in individually to Zoom sessions, with quality of interactions staying high but sound quality and visuals improving.
- Short virtual practice facilitation meetings are easier than arranging an in-person follow up for both ORPRN and clinic staff and therefore happen more often. These check-ins can help identify problem areas or give a boost to successful work, moving projects along both at ORPRN and within the clinical practice.
- Virtual facilitation and listening will never take the place of in-person relationship building, but its use can expand and enhance in-person meetings, making us a more effective organization.
We had our share of internal successes as well. I want to give a special shout-out to the 15 new ORPRN staff members who have joined us since March 2020. These intrepid researchers joined ORPRN 100 percent virtually — not knowing when they’d meet their managers or team members in person, make a site visit to far-flung clinics and communities, or even take a coffee walk with a colleague. And yet, despite that uncertainty, they have thrived at ORPRN. Kudos to all of you!
When OHSU went into “modified operations” in March 2020, we also suddenly became a telecommuting organization. Our amazing How We Work Workgroup, staffed by volunteer ORPRN staff and faculty, spent much of the last year listening, discussing and creating a new hybrid work model, which is currently being piloted by our Oregon ECHO Network team. The hybrid model aims to keep the best of telecommuting (more personal and family time, ability to work flexible hours) with the best of in-person work (informal communications, brainstorming and group projects, relationship building).
When OHSU recently asked all departments and organizations to begin strategizing a “return to work” for each unit, I was proud that ORPRN’s How We Work Workgroup had already surveyed our entire workforce, created a draft hybrid model, discussed and revised with model within the workgroup, shared the hybrid model with all of ORPRN, and created a pilot program to assess and inform its roll out to the entire organization. If this sounds like a Quality Improvement Plan-Do-Study-Act process, it is!
As we continue through the challenges of 2021, I’m happy to report that our ORPRN team members have risen to the occasion, staying nimble, creative and committed to serving the people of Oregon. They continue to deploy their research and QI skills to help practices transform and they are using those skills to improve internally and help ORPRN transform as well.
— Nancy Elder, M.D., M.S.P.H.