Coordinated Care Management

August 11, 2010

Coordinated Care Models Expected to Boost Health Quality Outcomes

The impact of coordinated care management on health quality outcomes was a key topic at the 8th Annual Health Care Quality World Congress in Boston this month. Annette C Watson, Chair Elect, of the Commission for Case Manager Certification and managing director for global emerging business at CARF International, addressed the challenge of implement coordinated care management and the lessons learned over the past decade.

Watson noted that 10 years ago the Institute of Medicine’s “Crossing the Quality Chasm” study highlighted care coordination problems within the health care delivery system. Now patient centered medical homes, case management and other models for 2010 coordinated care are back in the forefront of healthcare reform. Care coordination helps to ensure a patients’ needs and preferences for care are understood, and that those needs and preferences are shared between providers, patients and families as a patient moves from one health care setting to another. But how is the coordination defined, who is going to provide it, and even more importantly how will it impact quality?

Among the definitions of care coordination, Watson discussed that of the AHRQ: “Deliberate organization of care activities among two or more participants.” When establishing care coordination programs, providers need to keep in mind that “patient centered” is a key goal and dimension of care coordination. Research suggests that patient centered medical homes can provide cost as well as quality benefits – but Watson noted that primary care offices and physicians themselves don’t necessarily have the care coordination skills or the program available to support complex care coordination in the primary care medical home setting. Unless primary care providers and their team have the foundational skills, it will be very challenging to change patient outcomes.

Watson believes that certified case managers have demonstrated the skills and background that will lead to improved quality of patient care, especially when managing transitions from one care setting to another such as at the point of hospital admission or discharge. 

Dr. Cronin is a Professor of Management in the Information Systems Department at Boston College. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Erin Monda
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