Primary Care Policy and Health Care Delivery: VHA Primary Care Analytics Team

Dr. Karin Nelson is the Director of Primary Care Analytics Team (PCAT) for the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Office of Primary Care (OPC). The OPC is charged with policy and planning for over 900 primary care clinics nationally to provide high-quality, accessible, team-based care to over 9 million Veterans. The current mission of PCAT is to enhance the capability of the OPC to make meaningful evidenced-based clinical and policy decisions about primary care delivery through generation of new evidence and evidence synthesis. PCAT evolved from a 6-site demonstration project and evaluation of the patient-centered medical home initiative, called the Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT) program. This evaluation effort has been instrumental in providing evidence regarding the patient-centered medical home (PCMH) model. Dr. Nelson was the lead investigator for the development of a measure of the implementation of the PCMH model in VA. Dr. Nelson was first author on a study published JAMA Internal Medicine that was selected as the 2015 VA HSR&D research paper of the year. Her current work in primary care policy includes a recently funded VA IIR focusing on Developing a New Method to Improve Primary Care Workforce Management (HSR&D IIR 20-309).

Testing Models to Improve Chronic Disease Management and Disease Prevention

Dr. Nelson is PI and Co-PI on two studies to test peer support models in the Veteran primary care population. Vet-Coach is a 4-year randomized trial testing a peer support model in the VA, where Veterans, trained as peer health coaches, work with other veterans to decrease cardiovascular risks among patients with poorly controlled hypertension [Vet COACH (Veteran peer Coaches Optimizing and Advancing Cardiac Health, (HSR&D – IIR 14-063-2)]. Utilizing geographic information systems (GIS) data, this study targets high-risk communities where veterans and their peer coaches reside. Recruitment has been completed. Recently funded, the VetAssist study will test a telehealth-delivered peer support intervention on quality of life among Veterans with multimorbidity (IIR 21-100). This study is being conducted at the VHA Seattle-Denver Center of Innovation (COIN), where Dr. Nelson is a core Investigator.

Career Development and Mentorship

Dr. Nelson is past co-Director for the VA MD HSR&D fellowship. She currently serves as the primary mentor for two VHA Career Development (CDA) awardees and a co-mentor on a third VHA CDA award. She has provided mentorship to numerous trainees from the medical student to the PhD post-doctoral fellow and Assistant Professor levels. She was nominated for the 2015 and 2020 UW Department of Medicine Mentoring Award and for the 2019 UW School of Medicine Excellence in Mentoring Women Faculty Award.