Patient selection strategies in an intensive primary care program

Healthc (Amst). 2022 Jun;10(2):100627. doi: 10.1016/j.hjdsi.2022.100627. Epub 2022 Apr 11.


Background: Intensive primary care programs have had variable impacts on clinical outcomes, possibly due to a lack of consensus on appropriate patient-selection. The US Veterans Health Administration (VHA) piloted an intensive primary care program, known as Patient Aligned Care Team Intensive Management (PIM), in five medical centers. We sought to describe the PIM patient selection process used by PIM teams and to explore perspectives of PIM team members regarding how patient selection processes functioned in context.

Methods: This study employs an exploratory sequential mixed-methods design. We analyzed qualitative interviews with 21 PIM team and facility leaders and electronic health record (EHR) data from 2,061 patients screened between July 2014 and September 2017 for PIM enrollment. Qualitative data were analyzed using a hybrid inductive/deductive approach. Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics.

Results: Of 1,887 patients identified for PIM services using standardized criteria, over half were deemed inappropriate for PIM services, either because of not having an ambulatory care sensitive condition, living situation, or were already receiving recommended care. Qualitative analysis found that team members considered standardized criteria to be a useful starting point but too broad to be relied on exclusively. Additional data collection through chart review and communication with the current primary care team was needed to adequately assess patient complexity. Qualitative analysis further found that differences in conceptualizing program goals led to conflicting opinions of which patients should be enrolled in PIM.

Conclusions: A combined approach that includes clinical judgment, case review, standardized criteria, and targeted program goals are all needed to support appropriate patient selection processes.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Patient Selection
  • Primary Health Care*