In this new emerging healthcare environment, it is very important to design a care process which should be focused on prevention, chronic illness management, quality improvement and cost savings. Care coordination is one of the key roles of healthcare organizations which not only affects the length of stay but also helps in reducing healthcare cost.
After a patient is diagnosed by the physician, and advised to visit a specialist, then before the patient reaches home he/she should get a call stating that his appointment with the specialist has been fixed. And if the physician has prescribed him medicines, there should be a proper coordination between the pharmacist and the physician, so that the patient can be notified as soon as possible.
This coordination between physician, the specialist and pharmacist not only improves care experience but also boost patient satisfaction. Therefore, Care coordination is a fundamental of healthcare organization that aims to deliver proper healthcare services to its patient.
Some of the major characteristics of care coordination are:
1. Irrespective of role, location or specialty there should be a proper collaboration between all care team members
It involves tracking progress towards goals, managing and controlling decisions to improve accountability and to ensure that everyone is at the same level of getting outcomes.
As in the above example, the physician, the specialist and the pharmacist were coordinated with each other that helped them in delivering proper healthcare to the patient within minimum time.
2. There should be a proper communication between all the parties involved in the patient’s care
Effective communication helps to establish accountability and integration of healthcare systems to improve quality of care and reduce health disparities. Using unconnected communication waste time and increases unnecessary cost to healthcare organizations.
3. Avoid unnecessary tests and procedures to reduce costs and improve care experience
Unnecessary tests and procedures not only burdens healthcare providers but also expose patients to side effects. This also increases healthcare costs and total cost of care which is not at all a good move. Care coordination ensures that both patient and healthcare service provider can make decisions regarding what is needed for the medical condition and goals.
Role of Information Technology in Care Coordination
Large number of tools has been developed for facilitating care coordination in healthcare delivery system. Health information technology helps to collect information about a patient from several sources. To improve care coordination both healthcare providers and patients rely on health information technologies. From provider’s perspective, there are number of applications available to improve care coordination. Some of them are:
1. Electronic Health Record System (EHR)
These are digital patient records that make information available as and when required. It contains:
- Patient’s medical history
- Treatment plans
- Laboratory and Test Records
- Medications etc.
One of the most important and beneficial feature of EHR is that healthcare information can be created and managed digitally and can be shared with other providers across different healthcare organizations.
2. Event Notification Services(ENS)
It helps to improve care coordination by improving communication between care providers and case team managers that leads to greater patient engagement and satisfaction. Through ENS, alerts can be sent to anyone who wants to track a certain patient population. These events include admission, discharge, transfer and other additional information.
3. Transfer Of Care Services (TOC)
These are used to collect information regarding services provided to the patient and share with other providers as a summary document. This helps the other providers to incorporate that information into patient’s EHR.
Health information technologies promises to improve care coordination and with the integration of these applications, care coordination will surely improve.
Challenges and care coordination
- Some specialists can be great to collaborate with, while others may refuse to do so. If healthcare specialist do not share results or do not comply, refer them to other healthcare professional. There should be a written agreement between doctors and specialists containing in charge of patient care, records to be exchanged and when the patient needs to return to the doctor.
- Healthcare providers expect better reimbursement from payers through care coordination. Evaluation of payers contracts needs to be done regarding activities of coordination that are paid and how to bill for them. Careful coding is essential as CMS is reimbursing more for care coordination.
- Collaboration with the patient interest is most important task as without patient’s cooperation, coordination does not work. In today’s healthcare, coordinating care with patient as well as his/her family is essential for better results and improves quality of care.
Care Coordination should be at the forefront of the Healthcare Professionals and Patients interest should be the foremost priority of the healthcare organizations. Skillacquire through its platform is committed to provide quality education to healthcare professionals, so that they are better equipped to deal with healthcare related issues. You can learn more about care coordination in our upcoming webinar.