Coordinating Care Across Health Care Systems for Veterans With Gynecologic Malignancies: A Qualitative Analysis

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Abstract

Background:

Veterans concurrently using both Veterans Affairs (VA) and community providers and facilities have increased coordination needs related to bridging their care across health care settings. Women Veterans commonly require a combination of VA and community care if they have women-specific specialty care needs, such as gynecologic malignancies.

Objectives:

We assessed VA women’s health providers’ and administrators’ perceptions of coordination challenges for Veterans’ gynecologic cancer care, and potential approaches for addressing these challenges.

Research Design and Participants:

We carried out semistructured qualitative interviews with field-based key informants (VA gynecologists, women’s health medical directors, and other staff directly involved in women’s health care coordination) at 15 VA facilities. Transcripts were summarized in a template to capture key points. Themes were identified and iteratively revised (inductively/deductively) via a collaborative decision-making process utilizing matrices to compare content across interviews.

Results:

Key informants (n=23) noted that services for patients with gynecologic cancers are provided through a combination of VA and community care with wide variation in care arrangements by facility. Care coordination challenges included care fragmentation, lack of role clarity and care tracking, and difficulties associated with VA and community provider communication, patient communication, patient records exchange, and authorizations. Care coordination roles suggested for addressing challenges included: care tracker, provider point-of-contact, patient liaison, and records administrator.

Conclusions:

Experiences in coordinating care for women Veterans with gynecologic malignancies receiving concurrent VA and community cancer care reveal challenges inherent in delivering care across health care systems, as well as potential approaches for addressing them.

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