Quality of Hospital Communication and Patient Preparation for Home Health Care: Results From a Statewide Survey of Home Health Care Nurses and Staff

J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2019 Apr;20(4):487-491. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2019.01.004. Epub 2019 Feb 22.


Objectives: To evaluate the quality of communication between hospitals and home health care (HHC) clinicians and patient preparedness to receive HHC in a statewide sample of HHC nurses and staff.

Design: A web-based 48-question cross-sectional survey of HHC nurses and staff in Colorado to describe the quality of communication after hospital discharge and patient preparedness to receive HHC from the perspective of HHC nurses and staff. Questions were on a Likert scale, with optional free-text questions.

Setting and participants: Between January and June 2017, we sent a web-based survey to individuals from the 56 HHC agencies in the Home Care Association of Colorado that indicated willingness to participate.

Results: We received responses from 50 of 122 individuals (41% individual response rate) representing 14 of 56 HHC agencies (25% agency response rate). Half of the respondents were HHC nurses, the remainder were managers, administrators, or quality assurance clinicians. Among respondents, 60% (n = 30) reported receiving insufficient information to guide patient management in HHC and 44% (n = 22) reported encountering problems related to inadequate patient information. Additional tests recommended by hospital clinicians was the communication domain most frequently identified as insufficient (58%). More than half of respondents (52%) indicated that patient preparation to receive HHC was inadequate, with patient expectations frequently including extended-hours caregiving, housekeeping, and transportation, which are beyond the scope of HHC. Respondents with electronic health record (EHR) access for referring providers were less likely to encounter problems related to a lack of information (27% vs 57% without EHR access, P = .04). Respondents with EHR access were also more likely to have sufficient information about medications and contact isolation.

Conclusions/implications: Communication between hospitals and HHC is suboptimal, and patients are often not prepared to receive HHC. Providing EHR access for HHC clinicians is a promising solution to improve the quality of communication.

Keywords: Home health; care transitions; communication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Administrative Personnel / psychology*
  • Adult
  • Colorado
  • Communication*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Home Care Services*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Staff / psychology*
  • Patient Discharge
  • Patient Transfer / organization & administration*
  • Young Adult