National Structural Survey of Veterans Affairs Home-Based Primary Care Programs

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2017 Dec;65(12):2697-2701. doi: 10.1111/jgs.15126. Epub 2017 Sep 27.


Objectives: To describe the current structural and practice characteristics of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Home-Based Primary Care (HBPC) program.

Design: We designed a national survey and surveyed HBPC program directors on-line using REDCap.

Participants: We received 236 surveys from 394 identified HBPC sites (60% response rate).

Measurements: HBPC site characteristics were quantified using closed-ended formats.

Results: HBPC program directors were most often registered nurses, and HBPC programs primarily served veterans with complex chronic illnesses that were at high risk of hospitalization and nursing home care. Primary care was delivered using interdisciplinary teams, with nurses, social workers, and registered dietitians as team members in more than 90% of the sites. Most often, nurse practitioners were the principal primary care providers (PCPs), typically working with nurse case managers. Nearly 60% of the sites reported dual PCPs involving VA and community-based physicians. Nearly all sites provided access to a core set of comprehensive services and programs (e.g., case management, supportive home health care). At the same time, there were variations according to site (e.g., size, location (urban, rural), use of non-VA hospitals, primary care models used).

Conclusion: HBPC sites reflected the rationale and mission of HBPC by focusing on complex chronic illness of home-based veterans and providing comprehensive primary care using interdisciplinary teams. Our next series of studies will examine how HBPC site structural characteristics and care models are related to the processes and outcomes of care to determine whether there are best practice standards that define an optimal HBPC structure and care model or whether multiple approaches to HBPC better serve the needs of veterans.

Keywords: home-based primary care.

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease / therapy*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Home Care Services*
  • Humans
  • Primary Health Care*
  • United States
  • Veterans Health*