Perspectives of Clinicians, Staff, and Veterans in Transitioning Veterans from Non-VA Hospitals to Primary Care in a Single VA Healthcare System

Abstract [from journal]

Background: Veterans with healthcare needs utilize both Veterans Health Administration (VA) and non-VA hospitals. These dual-use veterans are at high risk of adverse outcomes due to the lack of coordination for safe transitions.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to understand the barriers and facilitators to providing high-quality continuum of care for veterans transitioning from non-VA hospitals to the VA primary care setting.

Design: Guided by the practical robust implementation and sustainability model (PRISM) and the ideal transitions of care, we conducted a qualitative assessment using semi-structured interviews with clinicians, staff, and patients.

Setting: This study was conducted at a single urban VA medical center and two non-VA hospitals.

Participants: A total of 70 participants, including 52 clinicians and staff (23 VA and 29 non-VA) involved in patient transition and 18 veterans recently discharged from non-VA hospitals, were included in this study.

Approach: Data were analyzed using a conventional content analysis and managed in Atlas.ti (Berlin, Germany).

Results: Four major themes emerged where participants consistently discussed that transitions were delayed when they were not able to (1) identify patients as veterans and notify VA primary care of discharge, (2) transfer non-VA hospital medical records to VA primary care, (3) obtain follow-up care appointments with VA primary care, and (4) write VA formulary medications for veterans that they could fill at VA pharmacies. Participants also discussed factors involved in smooth transition and recommendations to improve care coordination.

Conclusions: All participants perceived the current transition-of-care process across healthcare systems to be inefficient. Efforts to improve quality and safety in transitional care should address the challenges clinicians and patients experience when transitioning from non-VA hospitals to VA primary care.