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What is collaborative care?

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One of the goals of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Quality Strategy is to “strengthen persons and their families as partners in their care.” A major emphasis within this goal is the need for “collaborative partnerships among individuals, their defined family, and providers of care.” Medical care is very rarely about one provider treating one patient in a silo-like environment. To be truly effective, collaborative care is generally always a factor in a patient’s healthcare plan.

What is collaborative care?

Collaborative Care is a healthcare concept and movement with numerous names, methods, and meanings, but it is most commonly associated with the provision of mental health, behavioral health, and drug use therapies in primary care.

Quite simply, it is the result of multiple providers communicating with each other about a patient’s diagnosis and treatment. When a primary care physician’s patients see specialty providers, undergo tests or procedures, or stay in healthcare facilities, the notes and results from those visits must be shared so the providers involved in the care can collaborate.

Collaborative care also happens between patient and physician and between physician and the patient’s family. In cases where other factors, such as family history, social environment, or mental status, can impact a patient’s health, the primary care physician must be able to gather the whole picture to treat the patient effectively.

Patients with chronic or complex conditions, especially, need collaborative care to ensure that their healthcare plan is properly coordinated between multiple providers, laboratories, pharmacies, and healthcare facilities.

What are the benefits of collaborative care?

Brennan Bosch and Holly Mansell, BSP, PharmD, write that collaboration “has been shown to improve patient outcomes such as reducing preventable adverse drug reactions, decreasing morbidity and mortality rates, and optimizing medication dosages.” When multiple providers treating a patient do not collaborate on the care plan, the opportunities for duplications and errors increase, possibly with severe consequences.

Elation Health’s Collaborative Health Record provides primary care physicians on-demand access to patient information from any provider in the network. Time spent faxing referrals, requesting records, or chasing down lab results is virtually eliminated – a crucial element in effective collaboration. CHR automatically share updates directly from the physician’s Clinical EHR, so other providers get immediately notified, enabling them to take action based on the most up-to-date clinical information.

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