Primary care physicians and specialists frequently collaborate to treat patients, but care coordination presents a number of obstacles.

For physicians, those challenges often include incompatible electronic health records (EHRs), poor communication and lack of payment for care coordination activities, according to Medical Economics.

While effective care coordination improves outcomes for patients, a survey last year found that only half of patients experience the benefits of clinicians and providers who share information about their care, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

Here’s a look at ways to tackle common obstacles:

EHRs. Different systems can impede the sharing of medical records among doctors and hospitals, the article notes. Problems include difficulties exchanging records between healthcare providers and the inability to integrate patient information received electronically from outside providers into EHRs. Doctors who refer patients mostly to one healthcare system should make sure their EHR is compatible. As FierceHealthcare previously reported, better advancements will eventually allow for the creation of a single, universal EHR system, which Robert Pearl, M.D., called “the real holy grail of American medicine.”

The relationship between primary care doctors and specialists. Communication can be a problem, according to the article, so you may want a written agreement that explains who is in charge of coordinating a patient’s care and which records will be exchanged. If a specialist doesn’t share test results or ignores care plans, or if patients are unhappy with the physician's response, primary care doctors can refer future patients to other doctors, as FierceHealthcare reported.

Payment. Too often, primary care physicians don’t get paid for care coordination, Medical Economics reported. Check payer contracts to make sure you understand which coordination activities are approved for reimbursement.