What is care coordination and why does it matter? Print
Written by Accountable Care Options   
Wednesday, 05 July 2017 16:54

Care coordination has taken primacy in patient care, but not everyone understands what that means. Some physicians will hear the term and say, “I've always coordinated the care of my patients."

On a granular level, that’s true. Doctors have traditionally written orders, obtained offers and referrals from insurers, and sent patients to specialists for further evaluation and treatment.
In the context of healthcare reform, care coordination has a different meaning. It has expanded to all stakeholders in a patient’s health. Primary care physicians must open and maintain lines of communication with everybody involved in a patient’s care, including the individual’s family and social circle.
Why look beyond professionals? The first reason is to obtain and share health information such as surgical history, medication, most recent lab results, family and cultural traditions, and beneficiary preferences for care.

The goals are to reduce duplications of services and decrease the growth in health care expenditures for low-value services. Studies show that while some treatments do little to improve beneficiary health, they continue to be prescribed. When everyone talks about how to better patient care, more time and money is spent on treatments and lifestyle changes that have an impact.
The burden for coordinating care falls largely on primary care physicians. They ask each patient for a list of everyone involved with contact information. With patient consent, primary care physician can send data to other care providers and ask, “The next time you see the patient, would you be so kind as to give me feedback?" Once everyone is on board, collecting and sharing information becomes faster and easier.

The benefit goes beyond better care. CMS publishes practitioner data, and every physician has a financial incentive to achieve superior rankings for outcomes and efficiency. Top scores make the practice more attractive to patients and insurers seeking the highest quality at the lowest cost.

The tools to determine who’s best – and worst – are available to anyone, and payors have sophisticated means to evaluate practices. The simplest measure is the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, or CAHPS, survey. Among the questions, patients are asked, "Does your doctor seem informed about what other doctors are doing? Yes or no." The answer impacts beneficiary satisfaction scores and ultimately a practice’s bottom line.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 July 2017 17:00