Patient care coordination improves care delivery for patients and alleviates burnout for care providers. While resolving a patient’s confusion over diagnoses, conditions, and treatments, a well-equipped patient care coordinator also streamlines the implementation of care plans, optimizes care practices, and makes life easier for all care team members involved.
We’ve compiled the latest best practices implemented by accountable care organizations to help you optimize care delivery and improve health outcomes.
What is care coordination and why is it so important?
It’s the care team’s job to provide advice, support, and guidance to patients based on their diagnosis, prescribed care plans, and treatment preferences. Simply put, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, patient care coordination is the organization of all your patients’ care activities.
Why do so many health systems struggle with the deliberate organization of patient care activities and fail to meet patient needs? They may lack the care team training, care practices, and information technology required to reap the benefits of patient care coordination.
A health system that doesn’t equip their care team with the right tools could be to blame. Not providing Care Management software for care team may result in disjunctive healthcare service delivery and patients slipping through the cracks or receiving less effective care.
When a patient care coordinator can quickly and easily share health information with primary care providers, all members of their care team, referred specialists, social workers, and readmissions coordinators, care delivery becomes streamlined, the patient experience more pleasant, and health outcomes more successful.
Effective patient care coordination requires the deliberate organization of patient care and improves the quality of life for all involved. It will take some time to improve your care delivery, but once you’ve implemented this care model, it will allow you to:
- Send patient information (charts, notes, test results, imaging, etc.) to all of the patient’s healthcare providers and specialists.
- Work with a wide array of specialists to create an individualized care plan.
- Educate the patient about their diagnosis, treatment, and care delivery.
- Help care providers deliver appointment or treatment follow-up instructions.
- Ensure that interdepartmental teams have the health information they need to complete orders and deliver effective care.
How does patient care coordination affect patient outcomes?
The patient care coordination care model grew out of the exorbitant cost of care delivery for chronic conditions. Our fragmented, fee-for-service acute care system does not adequately address population health issues. Encouraging evidence from The National Institutes of Health, however, shows that patient care coordination improves both patient satisfaction and health outcomes.
Collaboration among multidisciplinary clinical and non-clinical care teams can be challenging when care delivery is decentralized and siloed by specialties. The lack of communication between social services, community resources, insurers, and health care providers often results in potentially dangerous duplication and confusion.
Using effective patient care coordination technology improves relationships between providers and patients, simplifies information sharing, and engages patients in their own care. Higher efficiency and more robust patient engagement improve outcomes for patients with chronic conditions and beyond.
How patient care coordination helps improve patient satisfaction
By helping you master appropriate delivery of health care services, a robust patient care coordination platform will improve patient satisfaction, which inspires adherence to care plans, instructions, and recommendations. Here are the top benefits of patient care coordination.
Good care coordination creates an efficient workflow
A poor workflow is a primary pitfall in most care settings. If care providers can’t find a health record when and where they need it, then waste time switching between tools searching for the last conversation, patients can slip through the cracks.
When you implement a good patient care coordination plan, you make workflows more efficient. Your team knows what to do and when to do it. With efficiency comes improved time management, which means your team has the time and energy to provide the most effective care possible to each of their patients, every time.
Prime care coordination promotes better teamwork
Teamwork is important in providing quality healthcare. When everyone on your care team collaborates optimally, it reflects positively on patient outcomes. When you implement quality systems, your team wastes less time. Having this sort of structure allows your team to rally around each individual patient and provide the best care for the patient’s needs.
How does care coordination save money?
Here are a few ways patient care coordination can nurture the financial health of your organization by:
Reducing redundant treatments
Healthcare research shows that when care team members aren’t looking at the same updated health information, they risk ordering additional tests or re-prescribing treatments that have already been tried and failed. Health record gaps are common in care delivery since providers across health systems rarely communicate in a consistent, detailed manner.
Redundant, repetitive care delivery drives up costs exponentially across the entire health system. Proper patient care coordination across multiple organizations helps care team members avoid overlapping prescriptions and repeat messaging, which cause confused patients to check in — often disrupting care providers’ schedules and wasting time.
Reducing physician burnout to prevent turnover
Inadequate communication and collaboration force care providers to operate in silos — which accountable care organizations avoid to preserve their financial health. The added stress and diminished morale dampen motivation and impair cognitive function, causing mistakes in care delivery. This can worsen health outcomes for patients and lower the quality of life for all stakeholders.
Patient care coordination helps prevent burnout, which often results in staff either quitting or being fired for inadequate performance — which means more recruiting, hiring, and training for healthcare organizations of all types and sizes.
According to The Electronic Reporter, the costs associated with burnout can range from $2,500 to more than $100,000 for higher-level positions within the health system, clinic, hospital, and all care settings in between.
Patient care coordination reduces redundant work and operational inefficiencies while inspiring closer working relationships between care team members as they collaborate to deliver the most effective care possible, improving health outcomes as well as their own self-esteem.
Reducing medical error expenditure
Medical errors cost Americans an estimated $17 billion dollars per year across health systems — predominantly in post-acute care and surgery follow-up treatment. When providers operate at the top of their license, healthcare services are streamlined, saving your organization thousands to millions of dollars.
Gaps in care delivery and health information among healthcare providers and patients keep all parties in the dark, cause medical errors, and disrupt care delivery that meets patient needs. When care providers prescribe medications with contraindications, adverse effects can put a patient’s life at risk. Effective patient care coordination enables care providers to easily access health information and advise each other on best care practices to avoid such errors at all costs.
How to provide patient care coordination
The NEJM Catalyst Journal analyzed the synchronization of care delivery between multiple providers and specialists, then outlined these proven requirements for providing successful patient care coordination:
- Provide easy access to a range of health care services and providers.
- Streamline all communications and care plan transitions between stakeholders — private and public — to achieve setting-agnostic coordinated care and patient engagement.
- Focus on the whole patient by addressing physical, emotional, social, and financial needs.
- Provide simple, clear, easily accessible information throughout the patient journey.
How Welkin can help you improve your coordination of care
Two major reasons for poor patient care coordination are a lack of healthcare technology or an overabundance of platforms and tools that are not easily integrated.
Implementing a tool like Welkin Health’s Care Management software can help you take care coordination to the next level. Once all stakeholders learn to leverage it, a single, yet robust system can skyrocket your productivity, allowing everyone to see more patients and accomplish more during every shift.
More specifically, Welkin can improve patient care coordination by:
Streamlining care plans
A patient’s care plan shouldn’t be complicated by outdated, clumsy, time-consuming systems. Welkin allows you to streamline a patient’s individual plan by automating actions throughout the care journey, linking actions to patient records in real-time for all providers to see, and creating proprietary practice templates to help manage communications.
One of the great things about Welkin software is that it’s simple and quick to set up and personalize. You can make updates and modifications in just a few minutes and make them operational for the care team within an hour.
Increasing the team’s efficiency
Improved efficiency can help reduce stress. For the past few decades, workplace stress has been on the rise — and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
Office politics, poor management, and high turnover can stress out even the most diligent employees and disrupt productivity. Patient care coordinators can quickly execute tasks that pile up with Welkin’s user-friendly software.
Improving workflow management
Welkin automates and streamlines your team’s processes by logging all data directly to the patient profile and guiding them through each stage of each patient’s treatment journey — from registration to release and every patient handoff in between. No more worries about wasting time searching, sending the wrong patient records, or missing vital test results. Welkin improves efficiency and eases the team’s burden with real-time updates, reminders, and assessments.
Enhancing communication and tracking capabilities
Monitor progress remotely through logged communication. Look for channels your team needs to use — such as telehealth integration, texting capabilities, or even apps that allow chat. Make sure you have the capability to track relevant RPM billing codes that are easily accessible.
Customizing and integrating your systems
Once you know what your team needs, Welkin can help you create a unique environment that integrates your existing and future systems — whether with platform APIs for custom integrations or with integrated built-in applications. Welkin collects and logs data from wearables or other devices that your patients use to monitor progress throughout their care journey.
Welkin helps ensure that your patient-to-care-team ratio does not stagnate, allowing your program to grow with your organization and enabling your care team to see more patients over time with the same resources.
Prime care coordination requires cooperation from your team
Once you’ve created a custom coordinated care plan, your next step is to get your entire team on board. How?
Update your team as soon as you start implementing any changes in your patient care coordination plan. Hold regular meetings — not only for updates, but to help you and your team address any issues or confusion from the start.
When you and your team are on the same page, your job as a patient care coordinator will be much simpler, and the patient experience will continue to improve — along with outcomes.
A patient care coordinator needs an effective strategy to maintain good relationships with patients. For help developing your care coordination strategy, download our FREE patient-centered care checklist.