Objectives: Approximately 7.5 million US adults are homebound or have difficulty accessing office-based primary care. Home-based primary care (HBPC) provides such patients access to longitudinal medical care at home. The purpose of this study was to describe the challenges and adaptations by HBPC practices made during the first surge of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Design: Mixed-methods national survey.
Setting and participants: HBPC practices identified as members of the American Academy of Homecare Medicine (AAHCM) or participants of Home-Centered Care Institute (HCCI) training programs.
Methods: Online survey regarding practice responses to COVID-19 surges, COVID-19 testing, the use of telemedicine, practice challenges due to COVID-19, and adaptations to address these challenges. Descriptive statistics and t tests described frequency distributions of nominal and categorical data; qualitative content analysis was used to summarize responses to the open-ended questions.
Results: Seventy-nine practices across 29 states were included in the final analyses. Eighty-five percent of practices continued to provide in-person care and nearly half cared for COVID-19 patients. Most practices pivoted to new use of video visits (76.3%). The most common challenges were as follows: patient lack of familiarity with telemedicine (81.9%), patient anxiety (77.8%), clinician anxiety (69.4%), technical difficulties reaching patients (66.7%), and supply shortages including masks, gown, and disinfecting materials (55.6%). Top adaptive strategies included using telemedicine (95.8%), reducing in-person visits (81.9%), providing resources for patients (52.8%), and staff training in PPE use and COVID testing (52.8%).
Conclusions and implications: HBPC practices experienced a wide array of COVID-19-related challenges. Most continued to see patients in the home, augmented visits with telemedicine and creatively adapted to the challenges. An increased recognition of the need for in-home care by health systems who observed its critical role in caring for fragile older adults may serve as a silver lining to the otherwise dark sky of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keywords: COVID-19; home-based care; home-based primary care.
Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc.