A couple of recent news items highlight how care coordination is especially powerful when combined with strong technology and multi-dimensional treatment plans. In other words, the benefits of care coordination are multiplied when hospital systems use it in the context of other initiatives and as a complement to technology, organization and process changes.
The combination of predictive analytics and care coordination has helped UPMC reduce its readmission rate by 13.5%. Another very interesting point:
The highest risk patients are also the ones with the most serious health problems, and no intervention is going to keep them out of the hospital. When analysts started targeting interventions to people with moderately high risk of readmission, they found that care teams were able to keep those people from returning to the hospital.
In other words, care coordination can pay off for many types of patients, not only the chronic or highest-risk, but also the broader, middle set of patients.
Care coordination is being combined with other types of modalities such as relaxation therapies to decrease costs of care. Kligler, et al., (2011) conducted a study of “patient navigators” that facilitate coordination of care, working in tandem with specially educated nurses who introduced a variety of complementary therapies to address symptoms of pain, anxiety, insomnia, and nausea in their oncology patients. This innovation in practice, combined with coordination of care, demonstrated a noticeable decrease in medication costs in the order of $469 per patient. When these costs were extrapolated to patient days per year, the projected savings to the hospital were $977,184.
Another study cited by the report reduced emergency department visits by more than 50%:
The staff at the Department of Surgery at Loyola University had noticed more disrupted care and patient concerns, because of resident hour restrictions. The department hired an NP for discharge planning and facilitating outpatient visits for patients in the colorectal and surgical oncology clinics. The primary responsibility of the NP was to collaborate with resident and attending physicians to coordinate discharge plans and communicate with patients after discharge through post-operative visits and phone calls. The number and substance of telephone contacts were measured and components of discharge plans were assessed. The study authors found a 64% increase in the amount of telephone contact initiated and received by the NP…There was a 52% reduction in emergency department (ED) visits that did not result in admission.
These findings highlight how care coordinators can fill gaps and how their efforts can pay off in specific, measurable ways. Further, they enable the entire care team – residents, physicians and nurses – to operate at “the top of their license.”
That care coordination is the common denominator in these examples underscores just how pressing is the need is in today’s healthcare landscape, and how effective and adaptable care coordination is as a capability – across specialties and disease types, for different populations and in unique technology environments.