Last Updated on October 4, 2023
Improving care coordination has become a primary goal for many of America’s healthcare facilities. A number of factors are behind this, including the expanding use of technology, and complex reimbursement guidelines from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. But, what is care coordination, exactly? In addition, how can healthcare providers utilize strategies such as managed services (MSPs) to improve it in their facilities?
What is Care Coordination in Healthcare?
Effective healthcare management requires careful coordination of various services to ensure that patients receive comprehensive and efficient care. This process, known as care coordination, is crucial in achieving positive health outcomes.
According to Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), it “involves deliberately organizing patient care activities and sharing information among all of the participants concerned with a patient’s care.”
Challenges with Improving Care Coordination
Positive health outcomes rely on effective care coordination. However, when you consider all the factors involved, it becomes apparent that it is becoming increasingly challenging each year. For instance, the 2019 Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey of Primary Care Physicians found that primary care in the United States falls far behind in its ability to successfully coordinate with other specialties and departments.
“Fewer than half (49%) of U.S. primary care providers receive information from specialists about changes to their patients’ care plans or medications, compared to at least seven of 10 in Norway, France, and New Zealand,” the report authors state.
The survey also found that only about four in every 10 U.S. doctors “frequently” coordinate patient care with social workers and community providers. On the other hand, American doctors were found to perform well when it comes to utilizing technology to communicate with patients. However, “problems of interoperability” create challenges in the exchange of “patient summaries, test results, and medication lists.”
How Failure to Improve Care Coordination Affects Your Bottom Line
This problem is not a new one, of course. As part of its drive toward reimbursing value-based care, the U.S. government has long seen the need to improve care coordination throughout the nation’s fragmented system. The Medicare Care Coordination Improvement Act of 2017, for instance, was an attempt to facilitate coordination by exempting certain payment models from referral restrictions.
Yet despite these efforts, the goal of improving it continues to be a significant challenge for many healthcare facilities. Poor coordination is a real problem that affects the quality of care provided in healthcare facilities.
Despite progress in using health information technologies, our primary care doctors often lack the tools to coordinate patient care and referrals with hospitals and specialists as well as with social service agencies.Michelle M. Doty, MPH, PhD., lead author of the Commonwealth Fund report, for Managed Healthcare Executive.
This, in turn, negatively impacts their ability to achieve patient experience and operational success in a competitive marketplace. Consumers now have more power to choose where they receive care due to the rise of urgent care and telehealth solutions. For providers, this can mean a major hit in revenue due to other providers prioritizing care coordination efforts.
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How to Help Improve Care Coordination
Yet if it’s easy to define the problem, it’s not so simple to find a solution. Improving care coordination is a complex, organization-wide initiative. It requires careful and deliberate effort from managers and administrators to make sure that all services are fully integrated. Such communication is not only encouraged but mandated, both within the organization and with any affiliated or referring facilities.
However, there are concrete steps managers can take to take their facilities closer to the goal of improving it. By partnering with a healthcare managed services provider (MSP), for instance, you can help your facility streamline important parts of its processes and communications that make the larger goal of full coordination.
Consolidating Workforce Processes
By consolidating your workforce processes, you can attract and retain top talent more easily and simplify administrative tasks like rate negotiation, contracting, and invoicing. Plus, it improves operational efficiency and reduces administrative costs, allowing your leadership team to focus on improving care coordination.
MSPs assist in streamlining the often disconnected tasks of hiring, educating, supervising, and organizing a range of healthcare experts, including nurses, therapists, social workers, psychologists, as well as managers and HR personnel.
Prioritizing Care Coordination in Employee Onboarding
Customize your employee onboarding process to better develop care coordination among all of your workers. When you partner with a leading healthcare managed services provider, you can choose to implement a uniform onboarding process that applies to each new hire. Subsequently, that lets you prioritize care coordination on an organization-wide basis.
Vendor and Technological Standardization
Standardizing vendors and technological systems on an organization-wide basis is an important tool for improving overall care coordination. When you have one universal tech system, you can establish a set of universal procedures throughout your organization to make sure that failure to understand technology isn’t causing any breakdown in the lines of communication.
Make the Move Toward Improving Care Coordination Today
Thanks to healthcare managed services, the goal of improving care coordination may be more in reach than you think. MSP can help you take an important step toward improving it, while also gaining greater returns on your investments in hiring, technology, infrastructure, and vendor management.
Discover how healthcare managed services, and other Joint Commission-certified workforce management solutions can help by contacting CareerStaff today!