What Is Coordinated Care?

Coordinated Care is the meticulous organization of patient care activities between two or more participants (including the patient) that are involved in a patient’s care, used to simplify the appropriate delivery of health care services. Organizing a patient’s care involves the directing of personnel and other resources needed to carry out all required patient care activities, and is often managed by information being communicated to everyone that is involved within the patient’s care.

Why Is Coordinated Care Important?

Coordinating care is a strategy that can improve the effectiveness, safety, and the efficiency of healthcare. Targeted and well-designed coordinated care that is delivered to the right people can improve outcomes for everyone.

The main goal of care coordination is to meet the patient’s needs and preferences while delivering  high-quality, valued health care. This means that the patient’s needs and preferences are known and communicated to the providers treating them, and this information is then used to guide the delivery of safe, appropriate, and effective care.

Specific activities used to achieve coordinated care include:

  • Establishing accountability and agreeing on responsibility
  • Communicating and sharing knowledge
  • Helping with transitions of care
  • Assessing patient needs and goals
  • Creating a proactive care plan
  • Monitoring and follow up, including responding to changes in the patient’s needs
  • Supporting the patient’s self-management goals
  • Linking to community resources
  • Working to align resources with patient and population needs

Why Is Coordinated Care Needed?

There are two main reasons why care coordination is necessary; the first being that a lack of coordination can be unsafe, or even fatal for patients. When abnormal test results are not communicated correctly between a patient’s providers or between providers and their patients, or when prescriptions are issued by multiple physicians and there is a lack of awareness of the medications the patient is already taking, the risk for poor patient outcomes is high.

The second reason is that uncoordinated care is more costly for patients and the healthcare system itself. Lack of coordinated care can increase duplicate services and tests, increase the risk of preventable hospital admissions and readmissions, and also adds to the overuse of more intensive procedure.