Home Health Nurse Collaboration in the Medical Neighborhood of Children with Medical Complexity

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Abstract

The objectives of this study were to describe how home healthcare nurses collaborate with other clinicians caring for children with medical complexity, and identify barriers to collaboration within the medical neighborhood. Using qualitative data obtained from 20 semistructured interviews (15 English, 5 Spanish) with primary caregivers of children with medical complexity and 18 home healthcare nurses, researchers inquired about experiences with home healthcare nursing services for these children. During an iterative analysis process, recurrent themes were identified by their prevalence and salience in the data. Home healthcare nurses collaborate with many providers within the medical neighborhood of children with medical complexity and perform many different collaborative tasks. This collaboration is valued by caregivers and nurses, but is inconsistent. Home healthcare nurses' communication with other clinicians is important to the delivery of good-quality care to children with medical complexity at home, but is not always present. Home healthcare nurses reported inability to share clinical information with other clinicians, not receiving child-specific information, and lack of support for clinical problem-solving as concerns. Barriers for optimal collaboration included lack of preparedness of parents, availability of physicians for clinical support, reimbursement for collaborative tasks, variability in home healthcare nurses' tasks, and problems at nursing agency level. Home healthcare nurses' collaboration with other clinicians is important, but problems exist in the current system of care. Optimizing collaboration between home healthcare nurses and other clinicians will likely have a positive impact on these children and their families.

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