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Open Access Research article

Home healthcare services in Taiwan: a nationwide study among the older population

Hsiao-Ting Chang123, Hsiu-Yun Lai123, I-Hsuan Hwang4, Mei-Man Ho5 and Shinn-Jang Hwang123*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Family Medicine, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, No. 201, Sec. 2, Shipai Rd., Beitou Dist., Taipei City, 11217, Taiwan

2 Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, No. 201, Sec. 2, Shipai Rd., Beitou Dist., Taipei City, 11217, Taiwan

3 National Yang-Ming University, School of Medicine, No. 155, Sec. 2, Linong St., Taipei City, 11221, Taiwan

4 Shih Chien University, College of Management, No.70, Dazhi St., Taipei City, 10462, Taiwan

5 Taipei Veterans General Hospital Home Care Institute, No. 201, Sec. 2, Shipai Rd., Taipei City, 11217, Taiwan

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BMC Health Services Research 2010, 10:274  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-274

Published: 21 September 2010



Home healthcare services are important in aging societies worldwide. The present nationwide study of health insurance data examined the utilization and delivery patterns, including diagnostic indications, for home healthcare services used by seniors in Taiwan.


Patients ≥65 years of age who received home healthcare services during 2004 under the Taiwanese National Health Insurance Program were identified and reimbursement claims were analyzed. Age, gender, disease diagnoses, distribution of facilities providing home healthcare services, and patterns of professional visits, including physician and skilled nursing visits, were also explored.


Among 2,104,978 beneficiaries ≥65 years of age, 19,483 (0.9%) patients received 127,753 home healthcare visits during 2004 with a mean number of 6.0 ± 4.8 visits per person. The highest prevalence of home healthcare services was in the 75-84 year age group in both sexes. Females received more home healthcare services than males in all age groups. Cerebrovascular disease was the most frequent diagnosis in these patients (50.7%). More than half of home healthcare visits and around half of the professional home visits were provided by community home nursing care institutions. The majority of the home skilled nursing services were tube replacements, including nasogastric tubes, Foley catheter, tracheostomy, nephrostomy or cystostomy tubes (95%).


Nine out of 1,000 older patients in Taiwan received home healthcare services during 2004, which was much lower than the rate of disabled older people in Taiwan. Females used home healthcare services more frequently than males and the majority of skilled nursing services were tube replacements. The rate of tube replacement of home healthcare patients in Taiwan deserves to be paid more attention.