How primary care enables coordinated care

Communication and coordination are integral to an individual receiving the appropriate treatment, particularly if that person is seeing multiple providers. A single point of coordination ensures that care plans, medications, labs, and tests are necessary and effective. When that single point of coordination is the patient’s primary care provider, the patient’s outcomes are typically improved. There are a number of ways in which primary care enables coordinated care to happen seamlessly and effectively.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), care coordination is patient-centered and family-centered, “designed to assess and meet the needs of patients, while helping them navigate effectively and efficiently through the health care system.” Coordination can involve determining:

  • Where to send the patient for specialty care
  • What information is necessary to share among healthcare providers
  • How accountability and responsibility is managed among those healthcare providers.

Coordination also requires an understanding of factors such as social determinants of health, the patient’s non-medical influences, such as financial resources, family support system, and transportation availability.

There are four elements of coordinated care required for it to be successful:

  • Access to healthcare providers
  • Communications and care plan transitions between providers
  • A focus on the patient’s holistic, total healthcare needs
  • Clear and concise information presented in a manner that the patient understands.

Primary care enables coordinated care by providing a centralized hub that fosters strong patient engagement, encourages productive patient relationships, manages chronic diseases, and coordinates the services provided to the patient. Engagement is a key factor which leads to higher levels of patient health and well-being.

In fact, patients typically view their primary care provider as the central driver of their healthcare. A 2015 survey found that a majority of patients, 87%, desired to have their care managed at one central point. The patients reported that their primary care providers should be the epicenter of their coordinated care.

Providers, in turn, can engage the patient more fully and with more confidence by working to ensure that care is comprehensive and coordinated during specialty provider visits. It is also critical that the patients become engaged in their own care and this can also be a result of how primary care enables care coordination. The primary care provider cares for the patient’s overall health and wellness but can also investigate other aspects of the patient’s work, home, and social life that can affect their health quality.

Elation Health puts physicians first – and it works. Our technology is purpose-built for the way physicians deliver excellent coordinated care. Our electronic health record (EHR) solution is authentically founded from the heart of a primary care practice and the science of health economics. We are based on humanity, not CPT codes. Learn more here.

One of the key factors in care coordination is EHR interoperability, which enables primary care providers to view and understand a patient’s healthcare data input by specialty physicians, labs, and other healthcare providers. Coordinated care can also help reduce costs by eliminating duplicate tests and unnecessary procedures.

Interoperable systems ensures all providers caring for the patient understand the individual’s current health conditions, enabling them to make informed decisions for the highest quality care available. Strong EHR use and strong care coordination is found at the primary care level.