Coordination of care between health centers is an important part of providing patient-centered, evidence-based care. And yet, it remains to be a challenge in practice due to numerous barriers. Today, we will consider three of these barriers and how a health system can overcome them.
Lack of Technological Interoperability
Ultimately, as the CEO of Life Image Matthew Michela recently shared in a Population Health Learning Network podcast, the key to overcoming a lack of health center coordination and interoperability is to empower patients.1 Due to the fact that healthcare organizations are complex and exist within a complex adaptive system, the fastest way to increase care coordination is, as Michela states; “having data in the hands of patients and the patients in the center of the healthcare system.”1 Is your health center empowering patients with their own health data? Many hospitals now use patient portals to make test results and other patient information readily available to patients. This is a great way to put the patient at the center of their care and facilitate coordinate as they go from one department of your health system to another.
Lack of Care Coordinators or Care Managers
Equipping your health system with the needed staff to provide coordinated care is likely the logical starting point for most healthcare organizations. The benefits to hiring Care Coordinators or Care Managers is an option worth exploring if you are seeking to improve your health center’s coordination and reduce your overall cost of care. In an article from the Annals of Long-Term Care, Richard Stefanacci remarked; “On average, patient costs of those with uncoordinated care were 75% higher than matched patients whose care was coordinated.”2
Lack of an Intentional Communication Plan between Health Centers
Your health centers must be intentional about coordinating care between different locations. It is a faulty assumption to think that they will naturally communicate successfully. How are you proactively planning your communication across your health system? If you need more guidance on establishing proactive, reflective communication within your organization, the Agile Implementation (AI) process is a great resource. In one of the success stories from the recently published book Agile Implementation, the authors describe how using the simple AI methodology reduced the incidence and effects of Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infections. They stated that “This process facilitated communication between units and fostered a sense of shared accountability across the Academic Health Centers.”3 Having an intentional communication plan and sharing it publicly within your system can be a highly effective strategy to increase your centers’ coordination.
- Michela, M. (2019, June 10). Retrieved from https://www.managedhealthcareconnect.com/content/overcoming-barriers-interoperability-and-patient-data-ownership
- Stefanacci RG. Care coordination today: what, why, who, where, and how? Annals of Long-Term Care: Clinical Care and Aging. 2013;21(3):38-42. Retrieved from https://www.managedhealthcareconnect.com/articles/care-coordination-today-what-why-who-where-and-how
- Boustani, M., Azar, J., & Solid, C. A. (2020). Agile Implementation: A Model for Implementing Evidence-Based Healthcare Solutions into Real-World Practice to Achieve Sustainable Change. New York, NY: Morgan James Publishing. Pg. 37.