By Zack Budryk
To optimize care coordination, it's vital that healthcare leaders look at it as a process throughout the care continuum rather than between two entities at a time, according to Christina Dempsey, chief nursing officer at Press Ganey, a patient experience improvement firm.
"When you think about care coordination it's about organizing patient care and sharing information with everybody who's concerned about that patient's care," Dempsey told FierceHealthcare in an exclusive interview.
Because of the all-encompassing nature of care coordination, organizations must empower nurses, who are present at all levels of care, Dempsey added. "Care coordination is used to provide safe, appropriate, effective care," she said, and because "nurses play a key role across the continuum … they are uniquely positioned to provide that care."
Mark L. Wagar, president of Heritage Medical Systems, an accountable care organization that serves patients in California, New York and Arizona, suggests that organizations define "care coordination" in the broadest sense possible.
"It's not just coordination of the care that's immediately in front of you to be provided as a physician or a hospital. It's coordinating all the things that need to happen in that particular visit, but just as important: how much do you know about that patient?" Wagar (pictured left) told FierceHealthcare in an exclusive interview.
Effective care coordination means being able to answer this question as it pertains not only to the patient's health when he or she walks into the provider, but also the patient's living conditions and socioeconomic status, he said. Providers must also understand that care coordination doesn't involve one-time solutions, Wagar said. It also requires that providers take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that any improvements they make stick, particularly for patients with chronic conditions.