Care coordination is an integral part of providing effective healthcare, especially for high-risk populations and those with chronic illnesses.
According to AHRQ:
“The main goal of care coordination is to meet patients' needs and preferences in the delivery of high-quality, high-value health care. This means that the patient's needs and preferences are known and communicated at the right time to the right people, and that this information is used to guide the delivery of safe, appropriate, and effective care.”
Why Care Coordination Is Important
Care coordination is a way of counteracting significant imbalances within the healthcare industry.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) estimates 33% of all healthcare spending is attributed to hospital visits, far outweighing the amount spent on physician and clinical visits (20%). Care coordination seeks to correct this issue by reversing these statistics so patients receive most treatments within a primary care setting.
Despite primary care’s ability to treat the majority of patient health problems, most people end up getting treatment within a hospital setting. Here’s why.
For many patients, getting in to see their primary care provider is an inconvenience requiring time off from work, extra commuting demands, or long lead times to get an appointment.
As a result, problems that could be solved in a primary care setting get ignored until they become acute and force patients to visit the ER or urgent care center.
Rising healthcare costs trickle down to patients, who often don’t have the financial resources to pay for basic primary care when they need it.
An even greater obstacle is the treatment of chronic illness. The CDC reports a whopping 90% of healthcare expenditures are tied to the treatment of chronic illness and mental health.
Let’s take a look at how proper care coordination addresses abundant hospital visits and chronic illness.
How an On-Site Clinic Implements Care Coordination
“Care coordination in the primary care practice involves deliberately organizing patient care activities and sharing information among all of the participants concerned with a patient's care to achieve safer and more effective care.” — Care Coordination, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
At an on- or near-site care center, patients have easy access to high-quality primary care for free, solving financial and access barriers. Improved access, along with incentives, lead to higher engagement, so patients get the care they need, when they need it. There's no waiting until their problems necessitate hospital visits.
Regarding the treatment of chronic illness and mental health, the CDC notes, “most chronic diseases are caused by key risk behaviors. By making healthy choices, you can reduce your likelihood of getting a chronic disease and improve your quality of life.”
An on-site care center's approach to care coordination includes integrated health coaching and a focus on behavior change. Patients, providers, and health coaches work together to create a personalized care plan to empower patients to take ownership of their health.
And, with an emphasis on empathetic listening, care plans acknowledge a patient’s barriers to making positive health choices. A shared understanding of patient challenges enable providers and health coaches to set and achieve smart goals for better health.
When a patient’s needs extend beyond the capability of the care center, providers specialists and coordinate known, high-quality, low-cost specialists and coordinate any follow-up treatment.