Fragmentation and lack of coordination in healthcare and social services are a huge source of frustration for patients, and also barriers to delivering high-quality care and making progress in efforts to reduce the cost of care. Care coordination - delivered by care coordinators, community health workers, and social workers, among other roles - is a key strategy to overcome this fragmentation and get healthcare and social service providers working together.
But what tools do care coordinators have in their toolkit to do this job well? The best care coordination platforms include client tracking tools to see where people are in the health and social care system, longitudinal shared plans of care to keep all members of the care team centered around the needs and goals of their clients, and real-time alerts and notifications of critical information. When care coordination programs purchase software systems that deliver these tools to care coordinators in the field, everybody wins.
Care coordination technology offers many benefits to care coordinators in the field:
1. Reduce duplication of services. Many members receive care coordination services from multiple providers. Who is coordinating the coordinators? With a shared system across the community, we can reduce the duplication of services that is happening amongst your members right now. This has the added benefit of reducing the cost of care. I wonder how much money is wasted every day when multiple care coordinators working for different agencies are doing the same thing for the same client.
2. Deliver trauma-informed, person-centered care. I once helped to coordinate care for a woman who had a heart attack in December, and was smoking that following January again. I knew that she didn’t want to engage in another talk about smoking cessation; she had already had half a dozen conversations from multiple providers and coordinators about the importance of smoking cessation. So what can we help her with? What is it that she wants to work on and discuss?
In Activate Care’s software, we can set patient-centered goals that are achievable, rather than repeatedly trying to make members conform to a rigid protocol that doesn’t work for them. It also helps that Activate Care can add a family member or the client to their electronic shared care plan. When you can allow the client to engage in their own goal planning, you'll have a better chance of "moving the needle" with them. Ultimately, care coordinators can then help their clients organically shift their goals to bigger ideas and personal milestones over time.
3. Foster empathy for the people we serve. To deliver trauma-informed care, we must begin with empathy. For example, most undocumented people won’t answer their phones due to fear of retaliation, deportation, and being failed by the system. Still, some are potential enrollees in a care coordination program who would benefit greatly from these services. Technology can help us develop empathy for these individuals. If they then begin to trust us and share their stories among their community, we may be able to bring about positive change in how communities decide to engage with care coordinators.
4. Help care coordinators take care of themselves. The personal safety of care coordinators is the most important duty of program managers. If program managers can’t ensure the safety of their staff, they can’t ensure the quality of care delivered to their members. Their outcomes are at risk, and so their program is at risk. A toolkit like Activate Care is designed to address the safety, legal, regulatory, and operational risks that care coordinators face in the field. I can’t emphasize this point enough.
5. Overcome barriers to achieving member goals. Software will never replace the humane and empathetic work of a care coordinator. However, it can help make those authentic healing relationships more stable, impactful, enduring, and goal-oriented.
My time as a care coordinator changed my life, and I wish I had the tools to help me complete my job more efficiently, which would allow me to spend more time engaged in helping members achieve their personal health and wellness goals.
If you'd like to learn more about our work at Activate Care, come learn how our new Care Standards Library can ease the burden on your staff and deliver engaging interventions in your community. Click below to register for our webinar on July 15.