Delivery of gender-sensitive comprehensive primary care to women veterans: implications for VA Patient Aligned Care Teams.J Gen Intern Med. 2014 Jul; 29 Suppl 2:S703-7.JG
The Veterans Health Administration (VA) has undertaken a major initiative to transform primary care delivery through implementation of Patient Aligned Care Teams (PACTs). Based on the patient-centered medical home concept, PACTs aim to improve access, continuity, coordination, and comprehensiveness using team-based care that is patient driven and patient centered. However, how PACT principles should be applied to meet the needs of special populations, including women veterans, is not entirely clear. While historical differences in military participation meant women veterans were rarely seen in VA healthcare settings, they now represent the fastest growing segment of new VA users. They also have complex healthcare needs, adding gender-specific services and other needs to the spectrum of services that the VA must deliver. These trends are changing the VA landscape, introducing challenges to how VA care is organized, how VA providers need to be trained, and how VA considers implementation of new initiatives, such as PACT. We briefly describe the evolution of VA primary care delivery for women veterans, review VA policy for delivering gender-sensitive comprehensive primary care for women, and discuss the challenges that women veterans' needs pose in the context of PACT implementation. We conclude with recommendations for addressing some of these challenges moving forward.