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Care coordination finally in the spotlight

Created date

February 25th, 2015

If you’re like many seniors, you may have more than one condition such as arthritis, high blood pressure, or diabetes. To stay in good health, you may see a number of doctors, take several medications prescribed by each of those doctors, and sometimes require other services such as physical therapy or home health.

Keeping track of everything can be a real challenge, even if you are doing well. That’s where the concept of coordinated care comes in. Your primary doctor is the chief coordinator and is typically responsible for communicating with everyone involved in your care, including specialists, facilities, pharmacies, and your family. Research shows that coordinated care improves quality of life and lowers health care costs, especially for people with chronic health conditions. 

Payers recognize benefits

Payers, Medicare in particular, are finally beginning to see the wisdom of the coordinated care model for people with multiple chronic conditions and are now willing to pay doctors for performing these services. Medicare is making an effort to reduce costs—after all, nearly two-thirds of the program’s beneficiaries have two or more chronic conditions and accounted for 93% of Medicare’s spending in 2013.

Coordinating care for multiple patients consumes a lot of physician and staff time, and a strong team is needed to do the numerous tasks associated with being effective. Hopefully, this new reimbursement may help more primary doctors obtain the resources they need to improve the health of their patients.  

This is a big step. Many of you recall when Medicare only paid for so-called “sick care,” and reimbursed little or nothing for preventive services such as flu shots. It’s great to see Medicare now appreciating the critical role coordination of care plays in preventing and managing disease.

Another advantage of this program is that researchers will be able to collect data in order to analyze the type of care that patients with multiple chronic conditions receive and thus determine what works best. Having a doctor who coordinates your care may also help prevent hospitalizations and emergency room visits. At Erickson Living, we have reduced rehospitalizations among residents in Erickson Advantage, our Medicare Advantage plan, by 50% through close follow-up and coordination. 

Having a care plan that is shared among all your health care team members is vital to receiving the very best in care. Take the time when you visit any of your providers to make sure they are communicating with your primary care provider.