Who could benefit the most from highly-coordinated care?

Independent primary care physicians know that coordinated care is important for all of their patients. They also realize that some patients have a greater need and benefit more from care coordination in primary care plans. Patients with complex needs and chronic conditions tend to benefit the most from highly-coordinated care, for a number of reasons.

Research published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) describes those with complex health needs as having not only medical issues but quite often social support needs as well. These patients typically are the most costly, primarily due to the wide range and the intensity of the services they require.

Patients with complex needs tend to have more emergency room and hospital visits. They receive care in a number of medical facilities, in addition to undergoing a variety of lab tests and other procedures. As such, “they are more vulnerable to fragmented care.” The AHRQ research report points out, though, that primary care providers who “can effectively coordinate the full range of medical, mental health, and social services may have special benefit” for these patients.

Patients with chronic conditions also benefit from care coordination in primary care. As the AHRQ research report states, “these patients generally use more health services and receive care from more and different health professionals than do people without chronic conditions.”

Coordinated primary care can be the difference for chronically ill patients who see multiple specialty providers. Primary care physicians need accurate and timely information from all providers involved in the patient’s care, to ensure everyone is collaborating effectively. The more efficiently the primary care physician is able to access this information, the more the patient benefits.

Highly-coordinated care benefits patients with complex needs and chronic conditions, as well as those patients who are not chronically ill. When independent primary care physicians have the ability to know which providers have cared for their patients, they no longer have to rely on their patients’ memories or to shuffle through paperwork to find that information. The physicians are able to do what they do best and that is to focus on providing the highest quality care to all of their patients.

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