Health Services Research & Development

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Morgan RO, Pathak S, Bass DM, Judge KS, Wilson NL, McCarthy C, Kim JH, Kunik ME. Does care consultation affect use of VHA versus non-VHA care? The American journal of managed care. 2019 Apr 1; 25(4):e119-e125.
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Abstract: OBJECTIVES: The Partners in Dementia Care (PDC) intervention has shown improved psychosocial outcomes while reducing overall inpatient and emergency department (ED) utilization among veterans with cognitive impairment and behavioral symptoms. However, veterans who use the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) also seek care from non-VHA sources, potentially reducing the effectiveness of care coordination. We evaluated whether PDC affected VHA and non-VHA inpatient and ED use by veterans with dementia. STUDY DESIGN: PDC is a telephone-based care coordination and support service program implemented in 2 VHA intervention sites that were compared with 3 VHA control sites. Veterans with a dementia diagnosis and their caregivers participated. METHODS: Data came from administrative records and structured interviews with caregivers. We modeled the likelihood of site of care across 3 periods: preintervention (baseline), baseline to 6 months, and 6 months to 12 months. RESULTS: Compared with veterans at control sites, veterans at intervention sites who lived closer to VHA medical centers showed an increase over time (P .01) in the likelihood of seeking VHA inpatient care as opposed to non-VHA care, whereas the likelihood of seeking non-VHA relative to VHA inpatient care increased for veterans living further away. ED visits did not show a comparable intervention effect. CONCLUSIONS: PDC intervention affected the choice of VHA versus non-VHA inpatient care, with its impact differing by distance from VHA medical centers. Site of ED care was not affected. Accountable care organizations share some of the VHA's vulnerabilities to out-of-system use; thus, the implications of our findings extend beyond the VHA system.