Document Type



Purpose The Billings Area Indian Health Service (IHS) serves approximately 60,021 American Indians living in Montana and Wyoming. For many eligible American Indians in the Billings Area, home health care services are not available. The aims of this project are: 1) develop a current profile of existing public health nursing and home health care services on each reservation in the Billings Area IHS; 2) develop a profile of successful home health programs on reservations in the United States; and 3) integrate the two profiles to identify factors contributing to success and failure in home care programs. Methods Benchmarking, a key tool in Total Quality Management (TQM), was used in this project. Several phases are undertaken in a benchmarking process: planning, analysis, integration, action, and maturity. This project focused on the first three phases. Initially, the project team decided what to benchmark - "skilled" home health care. Next, profiles of the eight Billings Area IHS Service Units were developed. The project team then visited four sites across the U.S. where tribes provided home health care services to tribal members with partner agencies. Results The user populations of the Billings Area Service Units range from 3,700 to 10,400. The proportion of the population that is elderly has been used as an indicator of home health care need. The populations are relatively young with a high percentage of residents under age 5 and a relatively low percentage of residents over the age of 55. The leading causes of persons using home health care include heart disease, musculoskeletal disease, injuries and poisoning, cancer, respiratory disease and endocrine disorders. The availability of home health care resources on the Service Units varies widely. All Billings Service Units have public health nursing services, however, most the Public Health Nurses are only able to provide minimal home health care services. Tribal home health care partnerships developed by Fort Belknap in Montana, Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, and the Navajo Nation in New Mexico, were reviewed with respect to service agreements, clients, and budget implications. Conclusion For any new skilled home health care service venture to be successful, the following components must be present: 1) commitment; 2) support; 3) communication; 4) leadership; and 5) autonomy. Prior to implementing a strategy of home health care services, several issues must be considered. These issues include: 1) size of service population; 2) geographic location of service population; 3) availability of collaborator agencies; 4) availability of skilled home health care professionals; 5) administrative capacity; 6) technology infrastructure 7) tribal support; and 8) community networks.

Publication Date



Indian Health Service, Staff Office of Planning, Evaluation and Research, Rockville, MD 20857 (E-125).