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"We Are Working Harder, Not Smarter:" a Qualitative Inquiry Into Care Coordination for Department of Veterans Affairs Mammograms Referred to the Community.

Monty GR, Benson SK, Deeds SA, Callegari LS, Katon JG, Cordasco KM, Gray KE. "We Are Working Harder, Not Smarter:" a Qualitative Inquiry Into Care Coordination for Department of Veterans Affairs Mammograms Referred to the Community. Women's health issues : official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. 2022 Dec 15.

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INTRODUCTION: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) relies on facilities outside of VA to provide mammograms for most VA patients. Prior work suggests challenges to coordinating some sex-specific services between VA and other health care systems (e.g., gynecologic malignancies, maternity care), but little is known about barriers and facilitators to mammogram care coordination. We sought to describe processes for coordinating mammograms referred outside of VA and to characterize VA staff perspectives on care coordination barriers and facilitators. METHODS: We conducted semistructured interviews with 44 VA staff at 10 VA Medical Centers that refer all mammograms outside of the VA. Respondents included staff across multiple VA departments involved in coordinating mammograms. We used a rapid templated approach to analyze audio-recorded interviews to characterize the coordination processes and identify barriers and facilitators to care coordination. RESULTS: Interviews elucidated a common mammogram care coordination process, with variability in how process steps were achieved. We identified six themes: 1) the process is generally perceived as inefficient, 2) clarity in VA staff roles and responsibilities is essential, 3) internal VA communication facilitates coordination, 4) challenges arise from variability in community provider processes and their limited understanding of VA processes, 5) coordination challenges can negatively impact veterans, and 6) technology holds promise but remains a barrier. CONCLUSIONS: Coordination of mammograms that are referred outside of VA is challenging for staff in multiple VA departments and roles. VA programs should focus on improving communication and role clarity within the VA and better harnessing technology to support coordination efforts.

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