What is Home Care Research?

In recent years, the United States has experienced an explosion of medical knowledge and technology. Many advances in health care now make it possible for people to remain in the comfort of their own homes while benefiting from services and therapies that were once available only in the hospital. The purpose of home care research is to ensure that home health care patients and their families receive the highest quality care, based on the most up-to-date scientific evidence, put into practice by expert clinicians and staff.

At the Center for Home Care Policy & Research, we test new methods, tools, techniques and technologies to advance the science of health care at home. Our studies are designed to put the best scientific evidence in the hands of our staff, and to promote the health, well-being and independence of our patients. We also conduct studies designed to provide information for national, state and local policy makers. In short, our aim is to benefit patients and families through research that supports positive changes in home care practice and policy.

We seek to improve the quality and outcomes of health services at home.

VNSNY clinicians are equipped with tablet computers. After each patient visit, every VNSNY nurse, rehabilitation therapist, and social worker records patient information. The Center has established a Division of Outcomes, Informatics and Evaluation (the “Outcomes Group”) to track, analyze and use this information to improve patient care, patient health and patient satisfaction. The result: Each patient receives the right care at the right time.

To improve home care quality throughout the country, the Center collaborates with national associations and with home care providers across the U.S. to implement evidence-based practice improvement strategies. The Center’s CHAMP Program (Collaboration for Homecare Advances in Management and Practice), funded by the the John A. Hartford Foundation, the Atlantic Philanthropies and a number of regional philanthropies, is an ambitious national effort to promote excellence in home care for older adults in areas such as medication management and pain relief. For more information, click here to visit CHAMP’s website.

We develop and test new programs and new models of care.

The Center’s research underpins multiple VNSNY initiatives designed to reduce hospitalizations among our patients. The Center’s researchers have developed a risk assessment tool to alert nurses to patients with a high risk for hospitalization. Nurses can then incorporate into patients’ plan of care interventions that have been tested and proven to reduce the risk of hospitalization.

The Center’s staff members analyze patient data that are incorporated into “Quality Scorecards” that help VNSNY nurses and managers set goals and monitor progress in patient care, outcomes, satisfaction and other areas.

With support from the New York State Health Foundation, the Center’s staff members are working collaboratively with teams in an entire VNSNY service region to test the AIM Program–a new model designed to help patients and families better anticipate and plan for advanced illness, access hospice services when appropriate and receive palliative care to manage symptoms and improve their quality of life.

Through the national CHAMP Program, the Center has demonstrated the success of innovative “e-learning” courses for front-line nurse managers. CHAMP also is developing an online community of geriatric experts and home care clinicians that will be at the forefront of innovations to promote practice change and improve the quality of home-based health services.

We seek to make health care systems better.

We don’t keep our research to ourselves. Although a main goal is to offer the best care to our patients, we place high priority on sharing our research findings, providing analysis of data to policy makers and planners at private and public agencies and institutions. We analyze the impact of new and existing long-term care policies, and we develop ways to measure the quality of care at VNSNY and across health care settings.

The Center’s staff has conducted consumer surveys in communities across the U.S. to support the development of effective community-based services. We also have prepared reports for the U.S. Administration on Aging and the National Council on Disability to support “Livable Communities” for older Americans and those with disabilities.