5 care coordination obstacles to overcome

Coordinating care is extremely beneficial to patients who see multiple providers. The primary care physician must be able to collaborate and communicate with specialty providers, labs, and healthcare facilities, to provide the most effective care for a patient. When that patient has a chronic or complex condition, care coordination becomes even more important. However, there are a number of obstacles faced by independent physicians as they attempt to coordinate that care seamlessly and productively.

A recent article in Medical Economics outlines five obstacles to care coordination:

1. Interoperability

Independent physicians who use EHRs to maintain their patients’ data need their systems to be able to talk to other EHR systems. The seamless and secure digital exchange of patient information is essential to proper care coordination.

2. Working with specialists

Referrals can be a challenge when a primary care physician is attempting to coordinate care with a specialty provider. There have been some disagreements between primary care and specialty physicians regarding who is responsible for providing the patient’s information to the other. However, the responsibility for the patient’s quality of care ultimately lies with the primary care provider.

3. Payments

Proper coding will be necessary to ensure the primary care provider is reimbursed for care coordination efforts. Many practices are finding they are not being reimbursed as much as they think they should be for coordination services. According to Medical Economics, “Medicare’s Quality and Resource Use Report is a good source for determining how effectively a practice is delivering coordinated care compared to its peers.”

4. Medication coordination

Harmful polypharmacy, negative interactions that are caused by medications prescribed by multiple providers, can certainly be an obstacle to effective care coordination. EHR interoperability becomes very important for patients who need multiple prescriptions. Providers and their electronic records systems need to talk to each other to avoid interactions that could prove to be severe in their patients.

5. Patients

Yes, patients themselves need to be actively involved in their care coordination for it to be effective. Patients often meet with obstacles such as financial challenges, transportation difficulties, and other issues that keep them from being able to follow up with specialty providers or lab tests. Primary care providers can help by providing a list of resources to their patients who need extra help in these areas, including local public transportation providers or options for financial assistance.