VNS Health Is a Learning Healthcare System
Research & Policy Issue Spotlight
The Center for Home Care Policy & Research at VNS Health advances the national knowledge base underpinning home- and community-based services. Our policy and issue briefs provide syntheses of research on various topics and implications that may be of interest to home care leaders and policymakers.
Advancing the Evidence Base for Infection Control and Prevention in the Home Health Care Setting
VNS Health established the Center for Home Care Policy & Research in 1993. The Research Center’s mission has been to conduct research that advances knowledge promoting the delivery of high-quality, cost-effective care in the home and community. From the beginning, our goal has been to provide useful and timely information to key decision-makers — within the VNS Health and outside — on issues significant to the delivery and financing of home- and community-based health care.
A Vision for the Future
VNS Health and the Research Center were ahead of the curve in the home health industry in transforming data into information to inform action. In 2000, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) began requiring all CMS-certified home health care agencies to start collecting data through the standardized Outcome Assessment and Information Set (OASIS). Not only did VNS Health set up processes to meet the requirement for collecting information and transmitting data to CMS, we also allocated resources to build a data infrastructure to support practice and research.
Mission Statement and Goals
The Research Center’s mission is to conduct objective research that advances knowledge promoting the delivery of high-quality, cost-effective care in the home and community and that supports informed decision-making by policymakers, managers, practitioners, and consumers of home- and community-based services.
1. To conduct and translate scientifically rigorous research on key issues affecting the quality, cost, and outcomes of home- and community-based services
2. To provide useful and timely information to key decision-makers—within the VNS Health and outside—on issues significant to the delivery and financing of care
3. To serve as a catalyst for constructive changes in practice, policy, and research that promote physical and mental health and well-being and that support the independence of those with chronic illness or disability
Our work at the Center for Home Care Policy & Research culminates in:
- Publication of scientific papers
- Presentations and policy recommendations to health care researchers and educators, policymakers, and practitioner leadership
- Scientific evaluations and recommendations regarding specific health care programs and procedures created for practitioners
- Sponsoring collaborative pilot work with early-career scientists
- Creation of resources that prepare communities for an aging population
Current Research Projects
Our current research projects fall into three focus areas:
- Improving the quality, cost-effectiveness, and outcomes of home- and community-based services
- Analyzing and informing public policies that affect home-based care
- Supporting communities that promote successful aging in place
Our Team Members
Dr. Kathy Bowles, PhD, RN, FAAN, FACMI
Dr. Kathy Bowles, PhD, RN, FAAN, FACMI
Dr. Kathy Bowles, vanAmeringen Chair in Nursing Excellence & Professor of Nursing at University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, joined the VNS Health Center for Home Care Policy & Research as Director and Vice President in the summer of 2014. Dr. Bowles leads the Center to advance knowledge that will promote the delivery of high-quality, cost-effective care in the home and community, and support informed decision-making by policymakers, managers, practitioners, and consumers of home- and community-based services.
Dr. Bowles has a 20-year career with a record of continuous funding from the NIH and other sources for her program of research using information technology to improve care for older adults, and has been nationally and internationally recognized for her research achievements in decision science and telehealth. She has served on the National Quality Forum Care Coordination Steering Committee and consulted for The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on its initiative to identify the key data elements essential to safe patient transitions. She has served on CMS’ Technical Expert Panel on the development of the CARE tool and was a member of the Heath Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP) Care Coordination Committee to identify standards for the electronic health record. She co-founded a software company, RightCare Solutions in 2011 that was recently acquired by NaviHealth and provides an end-to-end solution for discharge planning and post-acute care management. Most recently she was appointed to the National Advisory Council of the National Institute of Nursing Research, National Institute of Health.
Dr. Bowles holds a BSN from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, an MSN from Villanova University, and a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Bowles is a Senior Fellow in the Leonard Davis Institute, and Director of the Health Informatics Minor at Penn Nursing. She is an elected fellow in the American Academy of Nursing (AAN) and the American College of Medical Informatics and a member of the American Nurses Association (ANA), the Gerontological Society of America, the American Medical Informatics Association, and Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society.
Margaret McDonald, MSW
Margaret McDonald, MSW
Margaret McDonald, MSW, Associate Vice President, joined the Center for Home Care Policy & Research in 1998. At the Center, she is responsible for developing and conducting research studies as well as overseeing grants and center administration. In the administrator role, she oversees a team that prepares and submits National Institutes of Health grant proposals and management of the Center’s internal finances and legal affairs. She holds the role of Data Security and Compliance Officer for Research and Administrator of the VNS Health Institutional Review Board. In her scientific role, Margaret has extensive experience in helping multi-institution collaborative investigative teams develop, apply for, implement, and disseminate the results of research studies ranging from small pilot studies to large, federally funded randomized controlled trials. Ms. McDonald has been the co-investigator or Project Director on a number of large Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and foundation-sponsored projects.
The focus of her work has been on examining the characteristics and needs of the home health population, developing risk prediction models, and evaluation of the quality, comparative effectiveness and outcomes of home health interventions. Margaret has co-authored over 70 peer reviewed articles, which highlights successful cross-disciplinary research collaboration contributing to the improvement of care for older adults with chronic, complex, and advanced illness.
Margaret is a graduate of New York University’s Stern School of Business and received a Master of Social Work degree with a concentration in research from Fordham University. Before joining VNS Health, Ms. McDonald worked with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Psychiatry and Pain Service and the Oncology Symptom Control Research Group at Community Cancer Care of Indiana. The research that she was involved in focused on symptom management in cancer and AIDS patients.
Led by our Vice President & Director of Research, Kathy Bowles, RN, PhD, FACMI, FAAN, van Amerigen Chair in Nursing Excellence & Professor of Nursing at University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, and Margaret McDonald, MSW, Associate Vice President, our team includes distinguished scientists and researchers from or in collaboration with world-class research institutions, including the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, , Columbia University School of Nursing, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, Weill Cornell Medicine, Rutgers University, Villanova University, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Johns Hopkins University, Virginia Tech and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
The Center for Home Care Policy & Research was established by VNS Health in 1993 under the direction of Penny Feldman, PhD.