The Omaha System: Bridging Hospital and Home Care

By Kathryn H. Bowles, Ph.D., R.N.

bowles@pobox.upenn.edu

 

Abstract

The Omaha System has been successfully used in home care and other community based settings for over 20 years. Within today's health care system in which patients move rapidly among care settings, the communication of information across settings is extremely important for continuity and efficiency. This article summarizes a study that evaluated the degree of match between terms from hospital records and the Omaha System to determine its potential for use across settings. Evaluation criteria were applied including the number of used and unused categories, terms coded as "other", degree of match between the terms, and reliability scores. The Omaha System generally performed well as a method to standardize and code the terms used in the hospital and some areas for improvement were discovered. More research is needed to extend and validate this first attempt to use the Omaha System across settings. The findings are discussed as strengths, weaknesses, and areas for more research on the use of the Omaha System as a bridge between hospital and home care.

Keywords: Omaha System, nursing classification system, continuity, transitional care, discharge planning.