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Improving Care Coordination in Your Practice

Improving Care Coordination in Your Practice

Practices are spending more and more time discussing how to control the rising costs of healthcare reform while caring for an ageing population. Yet with the advent of quality reforms like Patient-Centered Medical Homes, there has been a rise in the amount of effort needed at the practice level to actively coordinate and manage patients' care.

One way to corral the ever-growing list of patient care tasks is effective care coordination. Coordinating care involves things like recalling patients to ensure that they receive appropriate and timely care, tracking referrals to specialists, and connecting patients to resources that will help drive better outcomes.

• Setting up processes

So where do you begin? Start by identifying the conditions that you spend the most time on, or the patient population that demands the most care coordination. Once you understand the needs of these patients, you can begin to develop print educational materials and online interactive tools that will make your job easier.

Care coordination should begin during the patient's office visit. Once you establish clear goals for patient care during the exam, you can provide patients with the educational materials that you've prepared to help them manage their own conditions.

Keep a list of community resources and actively refer your patients to local health programs. There are often many programs available in any community — from smoking cessation to nutritional counseling — that can benefit your patients.

• Obtain commitments

Another way to maximize your time is to set up referral agreements with specialists in your community. These agreements are an effective way to ensure that when you refer a patient out for care, you will receive the report in a timely manner. Simply state that the specialist will see your patients within a certain period of time and will send you the findings of that visit within X number of business days. If a specialist fails to comply, send a letter stating that while you would like to continue to refer patients, it is not possible to do so without a commitment to collaborate effectively.

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