How do Health Care Assistants in Family Practice (VERAH) Describe the Benefit of their Work for the Patients?

DOI: 10.3238/zfa.2016.0036-0040

german translation / full article

Corina Guethlin, Ferdinand Michael Gerlach, Mareike Leifermann, Martin Beyer

Keywords: Health Care Assistant FP-Centered Health Care Family Practice Primary Care

Background: In family practice (FP)-centered health care, the employment of VERAHs (health care assistants in family practice) is hoped to improve care for chronically ill patients in particular. As part of the evaluation of FP-centered health care (in accordance with §73b SGB V in Baden Wuerttemberg (2013–2016)), the consequences for patients were assessed from the point of view of the VERAH themselves.

Methods: 87 VERAHs prepared activity logs in which they recorded details of up to 60 encounters with patients (N = 4.367). Following every 15 encounters, they filled out an additional form in which they reviewed their contacts with patients and described in free text the advantages of their work for them. The texts were evaluated by means of content analysis.

Results: From the point of view of VERAHs, patients benefit from their work by being better informed with regard to their illness and therapy and thus being in a better position to deal with their illness. VERAHs motivate patients to participate actively in their treatment which can lead to an improvement in compliance. VERAHs reckon their support in the coordination and organization of treatment provides patients with improved access to the health care system. By visiting patients at home, immobile individuals benefit in particular as they can maintain their independence at home for longer periods. VERAHs also regard themselves as additional confidants and contact persons within the practice team whom patients can speak to freely.

Conclusions: From the perspective of VERAHs, patients profit in numerous ways from their support. The advantages that can be achieved by creating supportive interactions between a informed activated patient and pro-active practice teams is already described in the chronic care model. The work of VERAHs can further help safeguard primary care in the future, particularly for elderly, immobile patients.

(State: 19.01.2016)

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