Implementing Geriatric Resources for Assessment and Care of Elders Team Care in a Veterans Affairs Medical Center: Lessons Learned and Effects Observed

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Abstract

In a randomized clinical trial, Geriatric Resources for Assessment and Care of Elders (GRACE), a model of care that works in collaboration with primary care providers (PCPs) and patient-centered medical homes to provide home-based geriatric care management focusing on geriatric syndromes and psychosocial problems commonly found in older adults, improved care quality and reduced acute care use for high-risk, low-income older adults. To assess the effect of GRACE at a Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center (VAMC), veterans aged 65 and older from Marion County, Indiana, with PCPs from four of five VAMC clinics who were not on hospice or dialysis were enrolled in GRACE after discharge home from an acute hospitalization. After an initial home-based transition visit to GRACE enrollees, the GRACE team returned to conduct a geriatric assessment. Guided by 12 protocols and input from an interdisciplinary panel and the PCP, the GRACE team developed and implemented a veteran-centric care plan. Hospitalized veterans from the fifth clinic, who otherwise met enrollment criteria, served as a usual-care comparison group. Demographic, comorbidity, and usage data were drawn from VA databases. The GRACE and comparison groups were similar in age, sex, and burden of comorbidity, although predicted risk of 1-year mortality in GRACE veterans was higher. Even so, GRACE enrollment was associated with 7.1% fewer emergency department visits, 14.8% fewer 30-day readmissions, 37.9% fewer hospital admissions, and 28.5% fewer total bed days of care, saving the VAMC an estimated $200,000 per year after program costs during the study for the 179 veterans enrolled in GRACE. Having engaged, enthusiastic VA leadership and GRACE staff; aligning closely with the medical home; and accommodating patient acuity were among the important lessons learned during implementation.

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