To foster collaboration and knowledge diffusion in Community Care research between VA investigators and VA OCC in order to support the aims of both VA Community Care researchers and VA OCC leadership to develop high quality, useful information aligned with VA OCC policy and priorities.
CREEK will serve as a policy and data expertise hub to share and disseminate information across research and operations.
1) To support the research of VA Community Care investigators by sharing knowledge (i.e., historical context, data sources, analytic issues, policy and contracts) acquired through the implementation of VA's expanded Community Care programs (Choice, MISSION);
2) To provide VA OCC leadership with key information and findings from VA research that will help foster high quality, high impact, and Veteran-centered research on Community Care.
3) To serve as a source of triage for Community Care research needs that are dependent upon input or data from the Office of Community Care.
CREEK/HSR&D/IVC grants recommended for funding
Dr. Kristin Mattocks
Follow CREEK on Twitter @VA_CREEK.
Kristin M. Mattocks, PhD
Denise M. Hynes, PhD
Michelle Mengeling, PhD
Megan Vanneman, PhD
Melissa Garrido, PhD
Amy Rosen, PhD
In this December 2020 Q&A, the members of the CREEK team discuss the value of community care research and how CREEK is serving and supporting VA researchers and Veterans.
Q: As Veterans are given more healthcare options, including community care, what unique information will the Creek Center be able to offer VA?
A: CREEK’s main goal is to provide a seamless connection between HSR&D researchers and Office of Community Care (OCC) executives, so that research findings are incorporated into ongoing conversations about how to improve access, coordination, and delivery of community care. In addition, the Center is working to ensure that recent updates to community care policies and practices are disseminated to HSR&D. We are working closely with our fellow HSR&D investigators to synthesize and communicate important research findings regarding community care and to assist researchers with their Community Care data knowledge. The research is growing, as evidenced by the publication of several important manuscripts on various aspects of Community Care—including Veterans’ satisfaction and experience with Community Care as well as comparisons between VA and non-VA care. The team is also currently curating a special issue of Medical Care to further encourage and disseminate research findings about community care so that this information can be incorporated into emerging and ongoing studies.
Q: From a Veteran’s perspective, why is the Center important?
A: CREEK is important to Veterans because we work to bridge the gap between research and policy for VA community care issues, and by doing that we accelerate our ability to evaluate critical aspects of community care. Often, researchers work in their own silos—writing grants and publishing papers—without fully understanding the larger context of VA policies and programs in those areas, so investigators can sometimes miss the mark on important unanswered questions. In turn, our VA Central Office program partners often aren’t aware of research findings until they are published, but we have found that these research findings can be enhanced with better information from our partners. By working together, we can be sure that we understand the OCC’s perspective on unmet research needs and better design our studies to address those questions—which helps improve the overall community care experience for Veterans.
Q: Can you give us an example of something you’ve all learned about recently from your CREEK work with the Office of Community Care (OCC)?
A: Recently, we had an interesting presentation by OCC on the new High-Performing Provider (HPP) designation. To better understand the quality of care Veterans receive from community providers, VA is working to develop a system that will designate which community providers have met certain quality of care standards. Those standards are based, in part, on HEDIS and PQRS measures and are available for certain types of care. At present, VA schedulers are able to let Veterans know if there is an HPP in their area, and eventually Veterans will be able to look on the VA.gov website to find an HPP in their geographic area for the type of community care they require.
Q: Can you talk about how the CREEK Center will support VA Community Care investigators?
A: We support investigators in numerous ways. For example, in the December 2020 grant cycle, we matched 15 HSR&D investigators with OCC senior executives for grant support. Investigators provided us with a brief description of their proposed grant, and we used those to connect the investigators with the appropriate OCC contacts. On the CREEK website, we also provide investigators with access to a summary of currently funded projects from HSR&D, QUERI, and VA’s Office of Rural Health. Additionally, we provide one-on-one data consults with investigators who may have questions related to their specific areas of community care. In particular, we often assist investigators in using the VA Health Economics Resource Center’s Program Integrity Tool data, a relatively new data platform that houses community care data claims and can help identify fraud, waste, and abuse.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add that your HSR&D colleagues should know?
A: We think it’s important to know there are so many community care research topics to be explored, and we’ve only reached the tip of the iceberg. We are happy to answer any questions investigators may have about community care or point them in the direction of somebody who may already be doing research in an area they might be considering. We have a quarterly CREEK call where we share OCC updates, talk about community care data sources, and disseminate research findings focused on community care. We also can’t emphasize enough just how critical HSR&D support is to our mission.