System Redesign: The Value of a Primary Care Liaison Model to Address Unmet Social Needs among Older Primary Care Patients

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Oct 23;18(21):11135. doi: 10.3390/ijerph182111135.


Assessing and addressing social determinants of health can improve health outcomes of older adults. The Nebraska Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program implemented a primary care liaison (PCL) model of care, including training primary care staff to assess and address unmet social needs, patient counseling to identify unmet needs, and mapping referral services through cross-sectoral partnerships. A PCL worked with three patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs) that are part of a large integrative health system. A mixed-methods approach using a post-training survey and a patient tracking tool, was used to understand the reach, adoption, and implementation of the PCL model. From June 2020 to May 2021, the PCL trained 61 primary care staff to assess and address unmet social needs of older patients. A total of 327 patients, aged 65 years and older and within 3-5 days of acute-care hospital discharges, were counseled by the PCL. For patients with unmet needs, support services were arranged through community agencies: transportation (37%), in-home care (33%), food (16%), caregiver support (2%), legal (16%), and other (16%). Our preliminary results suggest that the PCL model is feasible and implementable within PCMH settings to address unmet social needs of older patients to improve their health outcomes.

Keywords: health promotion; older adult; primary care liaison; social determinants of health; what matters.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Geriatrics*
  • Home Care Services*
  • Humans
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Primary Health Care
  • Workforce