Improving patient prioritization during hospital-homecare transition: A mixed methods study of a
clinical decision support tool.
Each year, more than 5 million patients are admitted to the approximately 12,000 homecare agencies
across the United States. About 20% of homecare patients are rehospitalized during the homecare episode,
with as many as 68% of these rehospitalizations occurring within the first two weeks of services. A significant
portion of these rehospitalizations may be prevented by timely and appropriately targeted allocation of
homecare services. The first homecare nursing visit is one of the most critical steps of the homecare episode.
This visit includes an examination of the home environment, a discussion regarding whether a caregiver is
present, an assessment of the patient's capacity for self-care, and medication reconciliation. A unique care
plan is created based on this evaluation of the patient’s needs. Hence, appropriate timing of the first visit is
crucial, especially for patients with urgent healthcare needs. However, nurses often have very limited and
inaccurate information about incoming patients and patient priority decisions vary significantly between nurses.
We developed an innovative decision support tool called “Priority for the First Nursing Visit Tool”
(PREVENT) to assist nurses in prioritizing patients in need of immediate first homecare nursing visits. In a
recent efficacy pilot study of PREVENT, high-risk patients received their first homecare nursing visit a half day
sooner as compared to the control group, and 60-day rehospitalizations decreased by almost half as compared
to the control group. The proposed study assembles a strong interdisciplinary team of experts in health
informatics, nursing, homecare, and sociotechnical disciplines to evaluate PREVENT in a pre-post intervention
effectiveness study. Specifically, the study aims are: Aim 1) Evaluate the effectiveness of the PREVENT
tool on process and patient outcomes. Using survival analysis and logistic regression with propensity score
matching we will test the following hypotheses: Compared to not using the tool in the pre-intervention phase,
when homecare clinicians use the PREVENT tool, high risk patients in the intervention phase will: a) receive
more timely first homecare visits and b) have decreased incidence of rehospitalization and have decreased
emergency department (ED) use within 60 days. Aim 2) Explore PREVENT’s reach and adoption by the
homecare admission staff and describe the tool’s implementation during homecare admission. Aim 2
will be assessed using mixed methods including homecare admission staff interviews, think-aloud simulations,
and analysis of staffing and other relevant data.
This innovative study addresses several National Institute of Nursing Research strategic priorities, such
as promoting innovation and using technology to improve health. Mixed methods will enable us to gain in-depth
understanding of the complex socio-technological aspects of hospital-homecare transition.