Recommendation 10. Federal health agencies should coordinate data collection efforts to capture comprehensive information on elements relevant to health care in the home, either in a single survey or through effective use of common elements across surveys. The surveys should collect data on the sociodemographic and health characteristics of individuals receiving care in the home, the sociodemographic attributes of formal and informal caregivers and the nature of the caregiving they provide, and the attributes of the residential settings in which the care recipients live.

Tools for Assessing Home Health Care Tasks and Operators

Persons caring for themselves at home as well as informal and formal caregivers vary considerably in their skills, abilities, attitudes, experience, and other characteristics, such as age, culture/ethnicity, and health literacy. At this time, health care providers lack the tools needed to assess whether particular individuals would be able to perform specific health care tasks at home, and medical device and system designers lack information on the demands associated with health-related tasks performed at home as well as the human capabilities needed to perform them successfully.

Recommendation 11. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality should collaborate, as necessary, with the National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to support development of assessment tools customized for home-based health care, designed to analyze the demands of tasks associated with home-based health care, the operator capabilities required to carry them out, and the relevant capabilities of specific individuals.

Improvements to health care in the home hold the promise of providing healthy living, comfort, and effective treatment to care recipients and of contributing to a growing and vital part of health care delivery in the United States. The recommendations presented here call for federal leadership and improved data collection and analysis in an effort to provide home-based care appropriate to each care recipient and to make the work of caregivers less burdensome. We have also identified many opportunities for researchers and developers to study and use human factors to support positive change and maximize the promise of successful health care at home. We sincerely think that this promise is well within reach.

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