Delivering Care Coordination – Part II

October 16, 2012

In part I, we established the conflicting reality of care coordination felt especially acutely in the home care industry. Simply adding more protocols and paper-based tools to facilitate care coordination is not likely to produce the desired outcome. Increased training can be beneficial, but its effectiveness is limited in the present context of lacking team communication. Accepting this reality is the path to understanding how it can be improved.

Care coordination in healthcare is essentially what other industries refer to as teamwork. Successful teamwork depends upon the ability to exchange and access relevant information effortlessly. This challenge has been effectively tackled outside of healthcare already. There, the underlying reality of demanding workloads and deficient resources is not different in principle. The same question of how to do more with less is just as applicable. Universally, this problem has been in large part addressed by employing technology. Utilizing technology has enabled teams consisting of individuals with diverse skills and areas of responsibility, located apart from each other and working at different times, to coordinate and collaborate with significantly more efficiency while retaining normal workloads.

Healthcare in general and home care in particular has lagged in adopting technology to boost teamwork, instead relying on manual protocols and paper-based tools. As many organizations will attest, the improvement with such an approach is only marginal and comes at the expense of increased efforts to enforce and to inspect. Clearly this can impede the ability to scale and increase productivity.

The reasons behind the home care industry lagging in adopting modern technology-based solutions are outside of the scope of this post. However, as the environment is rapidly changing towards encouraging more outcome-based care and frameworks such as ACOs emerge, such delays can have an extremely negative impact. Service providers such as home health agencies and the therapy companies they work with must realize that smart utilization of technology is the single best answer to the challenge of facilitating more effective care coordination.