It has been acknowledged that nurses play the central role in the provision of care to patients and often serve as mediators between other healthcare staff, patients, and their caregivers. The American healthcare system is rather complex, and the provision of high-quality care is often hindered by these complexities. Patients may feel confused or lost trying to access the necessary care. Nursing practitioners often provide the necessary guidance to patients and their families. These healthcare professionals are also key figures in care coordination that is gaining momentum in the modern healthcare system. Now, I will be talking about care coordination, the peculiarities of this approach, and the exact role nurses play in this process.
Although care coordination is becoming more common in American healthcare facilities, the essence of this practice and its peculiarities remain obscure for many. First, it is necessary to consider what care coordination is, and several definitions of this approach to care exist. However, all these definitions have certain concepts in common. Dennis Kuo and colleagues, in their article published in 2018, highlighted the major aspects of care coordination. These include four basic areas such as family- and patient-centeredness, planning and a proactive focus, self-care promotion, and cross-organizational collaboration (Kuo et al., 2018). It is necessary to consider these elements of care coordination in more detail prior to identifying the benefits of the practice.
The primary goal of this framework is to address the needs and preferences of the patient and ensure achieving the most favorable patient outcomes. This objective can be attained by identifying these needs and communicating them to the involved stakeholders in a timely manner as noted by Kuo and colleagues. Teamwork is one of the basics of care coordination because nurses and other healthcare professionals collaborate in interdisciplinary teams. These teams develop and implement treatment plans and ensure patients’ proper transition to different types of care if necessary.
Contemporary nursing is characterized by the emphasis on patient needs and outcomes, so patient-centeredness is one of the priorities. Professor of nursing, Ruth Anne Kuiper and colleagues in their 2016 book on care coordination, noted that this approach places patients and their families at the center of care provision. The utilization of technology and effective information sharing are primary premises for the provision of coordinated patient-centered care. The utilization of electronic health records (EHR) is instrumental in providing this type of care as noted by Kuiper and colleagues in 2016. This technological advancement ensures the effective flow of information and its proper sharing among healthcare professionals.
Moreover, modern EHR systems involve patients’ active participation in many processes, including data management. Patients start receiving access to their records, which is aimed at making them more involved in their treatment. This is also one of the methods to enhance their compliance with the developed treatment plan. In many cases, patients’ close ones also encourage patients to be responsible and follow the provided recommendations. Kuiper and colleagues mentioned several strategies of knowledge sharing, including patient training as nurses raise patients’ awareness of self-care practices. The use of EHR and patient training are instrumental in adhering to nursing principles, and these tools ensure patient’s autonomy and beneficence. One of the central ethical goals is also attained as patients’ dignity is ensured through their active participation in care management.
In addition to the aspects mentioned above, care coordination also involves the involvement of the community. Nurses, as well as other members of interdisciplinary teams, assist patients in locating and accessing available resources. Kuiper and colleagues state that this element of care coordination is critical for following another nursing principle, that of justice. It has been acknowledged that the U. S. healthcare system is costly, and millions of people lack access to quality care. According to Kuiper and colleagues, care coordination can be one of the possible methods to address the problem.
The practice in question can also be instrumental in managing numerous diversity-related issues. For instance, interdisciplinary teams include professionals who have the necessary knowledge and skills to provide care to certain groups of patients. Healthcare practitioners have the necessary cultural competencies that enable them to provide care to patients of diverse cultural backgrounds. Linguistic issues (that are quite common for many hospitals) can also be solved effectively. For instance, if no member of the medical staff has the necessary linguistic skills, interpreters can be involved in care coordination efforts. The benefits of care coordination are apparent, because hospitals manage to improve the quality of provided care. Michael McWilliams holding a Doctoral degree and employed at Harvard Medical School (Department of Health Care Policy), argues in his 2016 article that care coordination is beneficial, but it still requires some funding. The educator emphasizes that care coordination does not lead to cost reduction. On the contrary, it may require additional funds, but this practice does enhance the quality of care, which is critical.
When considering care coordination, some challenges related to its successful implementation should be addressed as well. One of the primary obstacles to the effective implementation of care coordination is the healthcare system’s being disjointed. Primary care departments are disjointed from specialty units, which leads to the loss of data, high costs, service overlaps, and medical staff overload. According to Kuiper and colleagues, unnecessary tests may be assigned due to the loss of data or ineffective communication and information sharing between departments. Patients are often at a loss and do not know what professionals to address or what services are available. To minimize the adverse effects related to knowledge management, the utilization of EHR is becoming more common. These information systems start covering more facilities, which is beneficial for the effective implementation of care coordination.
Another considerable challenge to care coordination development is the lack of resources and tight budgets of healthcare facilities. As mentioned above, McWilliams stressed that this practice requires additional funds to establish or maintain effective information systems, the necessary staff training, the acquisition of the necessary materials. However, since quality is the highest priority, these investments should be made. Effective allocation of resources can help hospitals to implement care coordination projects. Every healthcare professional can contribute to this process by assessing the existing policies and practices and highlighting excessive use of resources or inefficient strategies to be abandoned.
In conclusion, it is necessary to note that care coordination is becoming more widespread due to its benefits. This practice contributes to the improvement of the provided care and achieving better outcomes. Patients’ needs are met, and resources are managed more effectively due to the methods employed in terms of care coordination. It is also important to remember that nurses are key figures in the effective implementation of this practice, so these members of the staff need additional training and empowerment.
- Kuiper, R. A., Pesut, D. J., & Arms, T. E. (2016). Clinical reasoning and care coordination in advanced practice nursing. Springer Publishing Company.
- Kuo, D. Z., McAllister, J. W., Rossignol, L., Turchi, R. M., & Stille, C. J. (2018). Care coordination for children with medical complexity: Whose care is it, anyway? Pediatrics, 141(Supplement 3), S224-S232. Web.
- McWilliams, J. M. (2016). Cost containment and the tale of care coordination. New England Journal of Medicine, 375(23), 2218-2220. Web.