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5 tips to start care management at your independent practice

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An effective care management program will help your independent practice reduce costs and improve outcomes for your patients. How do you get started on such a program? There are some important elements involved in implementing and maintaining a quality care management program. Here are five tips to get yours started:

Develop working relationships with specialty providers

Patients who benefit the most from care management tend to have chronic or complex conditions. They see multiple physicians, which is one of the biggest reasons they need you to manage their care. Implementing a quality care management program in your independent practice requires establishing a positive and productive working relationship with those specialty providers.

Train staff

Your clinical staff will become instrumental in your patients’ care management. In fact, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) suggests that “in value-based payment models, alignment of clinic staffing with the needs of patient populations may be the most cost-effective approach.” Rather than creating a new position for the care management role, train current staff in workflow and communication strategies that will optimize positive outcomes for your patients.

Implement guidelines for population health management

The AMA emphasizes that “population health success is closely tied to a shift from reliance on the physician to making the best use of everyone’s skills at a practice.” Guidelines for your team would include identifying patients who would benefit from care management. Take into consideration not only their medical conditions and diagnoses but other factors, such as social determinants of health to establish care management for your specific patient population.

Establish your practice as a patient-centered medical home

For the patient who sees multiple providers, coordinating that care from a home base can be critical to the quality of the patient’s healthcare outcomes. Establishing your practice as a patient-centered medical home (PCMH) is an integral part of developing and maintaining a care management program. The PCMH is focused on the continuing care of the patient, rather than simply treating one condition for a limited period of time. In a PCMH, the primary care physician is able to engage the patient, ask pointed questions, and observe changes or signs that may need further exploration by a specialty provider or diagnostic lab.

Take advantage of available technology

Effective care management in your practice is facilitated through options available in your electronic health record (EHR) technology. The EHR enables you to quickly identify patients who aren’t meeting goals based on custom care management protocols. Collaborating with other providers is also made more efficient through a progressive patient record that allows physicians to effortlessly collaborate and coordinate care.