Care coordination tips for new practices

Coordinating care between providers and with the patients themselves can be a critical step toward ensuring the highest quality outcomes in the care of those patients. Here are some care coordination tips for new practices, including some insight into what care coordination entails and why it is important.

Coordinating care involves sharing information and organizing care activities among all the participants in a patient’s care. The goal is to achieve safer and more effective care, meeting the patient’s needs as the providers involved deliver the highest quality, highest value healthcare.

Care coordination is important for:

  • Eliminating fragmented care
  • Establishing a liaison relationship between the primary care and specialty providers
  • Providing clarity for referrals
  • Reducing or eliminating duplicative and unnecessary tests and procedures
  • Ensuring that the right care is provided at the right time.

Sharing information is at the crux of care coordination. Sharing information via interoperable electronic health records (EHRs) can be particularly important when the patient sees multiple providers. Sharing information seamlessly is critical for avoiding care gaps.

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Tips for achieving better care coordination results include:

Establish a patient-centric mission and vision specific to the practice. The mission, of course, should be focused on meeting patients’ needs through collaboration between specialties, roles, and locations. Regularly review and communicate the mission and vision among team members within the practice.

Ensure that practice staff see the continuing benefits of their care coordination activities. Care coordination can be a long-term process. Recognizing and celebrating short-term “wins” can be important for reinforcing the need to engage in longer-term efforts. Patients will also benefit from seeing the intermediate successes of the care coordination efforts among the clinical and non-clinical staff.

Leverage existing assets to address future needs. Use existing data related to care coordination to create dashboards and reporting processes. This approach will help team members measure quality, productivity, and care outcomes.

Engage all stakeholders in care coordination conversations. Clinical staff are critical to the practice’s care coordination efforts but it’s also important to involve everyone in the process, including the patient, and to keep all stakeholders informed.

Review workflows for inefficiencies. Workflows that are not seamless or efficient can become barriers to effective care coordination. It is also important to standardize clinical documentation so there are fewer opportunities for miscommunication.

Understand the practice technology’s ability to assist with care coordination activities. Assess technology capabilities to understand whether it is appropriate for sharing information, tracking patient data, and enabling input and review by all providers caring for the patient.