Cover: The Invisible Homebound

The Invisible Homebound

Setting Quality-of-Care Standards for Home-Based Primary and Palliative Care

Published in: Health Affairs, v. 34, no. 1, Jan. 2015, p. 21-29

Posted on rand.org Jan 8, 2015

by Bruce Leff, Charlotte M. Carlson, Debra Saliba, Christine Ritchie

Approximately four million adults in the United States are homebound, and many of them cannot access office-based primary care. Home-based medical care can improve outcomes and reduce health care costs, but this care operates in a quality measurement desert, having been largely left out of the national conversation on care quality. To address this shortcoming, two of the authors created the National Home-Based Primary and Palliative Care Network, an organization whose members include exemplary home-based medical practices, professional societies, and patient advocacy groups. This article describes the current status of home-based medical care in the United States and offers a brief narrative of a fictional homebound patient and the health events and fragmented care she faces. The article then describes the network's quality-of-care framework, which includes ten quality-of-care domains, thirty-two standards, and twenty quality indicators that are being tested in the field. The same two authors also developed a practice-based registry that will be used for quality-of-care benchmarking, practice-based quality improvement, performance reporting, and comparative effectiveness research. Together, these steps should help bring home-based medical care further into the mainstream of US health care.

This report is part of the RAND external publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.