Communication between primary care physicians (PCPs) and the specialists they refer patients to is paramount to the overall best outcome for the patient. Much of the communication breakdown lies in outdated protocols and manual workflows that some organizations continue to employ. In the past, many physicians referred patients to various specialists, but never followed up on the recommendation. The patient was left to make their appointment with the specialist. In those cases, as high as 50% of the patients never made the appointments or followed up on the physician's recommendation. As illustrated, improving referral adherence shouldn't solely be the responsibility of the patient.
Former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden both care a great deal about digital health technology systems. Even when they had less than two weeks left in the White House, physicians' ability to share patient health records digitally was top of mind — and on the same day, too!
According to Politico’s Morning eHealth newsletter, it was “the first time since the gods called this newsletter into existence [that] President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden both talked on the same day about health IT”.
Effective communication is at the heart of success or failure in patient care. This is never more evident than in the relationship between Primary Care Physicians (PCPs) and the Specialists they refer their patients to for follow up examination. The best PCPs provide their patients with an ongoing relationship - they serve as a mentor or partner in health, helping patients understand their specific needs and making recommendations when appropriate. The benefit for patients in developing long-term relationships with their PCP is that they have a trusted physician who knows their history and can more easily assess warning symptoms for new ailments and lifestyle changes appropriate for health risks.
Care coordination missteps are damaging to providers across the healthcare industry and one huge, overarching mistake is apparent: not enough information is being shared. A study by Health Affairs shows that only 14% of physicians share information with providers outside of their organization.
Unfortunately, care coordination mistakes can be costly...and not just in terms of financial expenses. Some of the most common care coordination mistakes are also major culprits for death and exacerbated patient health problems. U.S. News & World Report indicates, “Medical errors are [the] third leading cause of death in the U.S. 10 percent of U.S. deaths are due to preventable medical mistakes.”
We’ve identified six areas of care coordination where many practices make mistakes -- check out what they are, and see how many apply to you.
Problems with handoffs are a big deal in clinical practice. Defective handoffs lead to patient harm, treatment delays, inappropriate treatment, and longer stays in the hospital. In a typical patient handoff between physicians, important patient information is often not given to physicians who take over care of a patient. In a hospital, “[s]hift changes, also known as handoffs, are prime opportunities for key information about a patient’s condition to get lost in the shuffle,” according to a recently released study about patient handoffs in JAMA Internal Medicine .