When it comes to healthcare, there are many ways of delivering the best patient care and support. These days, multiple people may be involved in this objective — from case managers, to health coaches, to healthcare coordinators.
All of these roles have the same goal: to deliver the best healthcare solutions possible with the least confusion. Yet, with so many participants involved in one patient’s health, the patient or caregiver can easily become overwhelmed.
So, what is care coordination?
Care coordination — also called coordinated healthcare — happens when a qualified care coordinator oversees the health of a single patient by communicating with all involved participants (primary care providers, nurses, case managers, etc.) on behalf of the patient. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) defines it this way:
"Care coordination is the deliberate organization of patient care activities between two or more participants (including the patient) involved in a patient's care to facilitate the appropriate delivery of healthcare services. Organizing care involves the marshalling of personnel and other resources needed to carry out all required patient care activities and is often managed by the exchange of information among participants responsible for different aspects of care."
Care coordinators aim to meet patient needs by helping them navigate the healthcare system while keeping all relevant parties (doctors, pharmacies, and the patients themselves) on the same page.
A recent article in the New York Times points out that care coordination is becoming increasingly common as an effort to manage disparate care services and promote better outcomes. When done right, this can benefit the patient by ensuring that any primary care providers, specialists, and caseworkers are all communicating effectively in regards to the patient’s health.
Too many points of contact can create confusion
The confusion happens when a patient has multiple people all trying to communicate with her instead of a single care coordinator acting as the point person.
For example: After an outpatient procedure, a patient’s primary care provider, a health coach with the benefits team, and a nurse at the specialist’s office each call the patient to ask how she is doing. They all have the best intentions, but they haven’t communicated with each other first. Thus, the patient — or the patient’s caregiver — may begin to feel overwhelmed by the number of people reaching out. They’re trying to take care of her, but in the end they just create more confusion.
A true care coordinator relationships can help
One solution to the care coordination entanglement is for a single care coordinator — a “dominant care manager” or “healthcare warrior,” as they are sometimes called — to be the patient’s primary point of contact. This person answers all insurance claims questions, helps with pharmacy benefits information, and assists with provider paperwork. This person can also be the point of contact for other offices (like inpatient or outpatient care, mental health, and pharmacies), effectively communicating across all platforms without overwhelming the patient.
After all, the patient should be focused on getting well — not relaying the same information to multiple people at different sites.
When there is a primary point of contact, it is easier for the patient to form a relationship with that person and gain a better understanding of their healthcare options. This results in more effective communications and greater trust and ease within the system overall.
A well-structured care coordinator program can provide a foundation for lasting patient relationships and an improved healthcare experience. Learn more about Apta Health’s self-funded health insurance plans, with experienced care coordinators committed to being the single go-to resource for all customer service and care management issues.