The Importance of Care Team Coordination

A patient care team can be described as a group of physicians and caregivers from diverse medical and medical related fields who communicate with each other regularly about the care of a group of patients who are receiving care from them under a patient care management program. A Patient care team is usually required in patient care management especially for chronic disease management and patients with long-term conditions that have the possibility of resurfacing. A With a layman’s knowledge of how a hospital works, it’s common to start to wonder if all the staff in a hospital or health facility are part of a care team such as the receptionist, nurse, lab technician etc. That is not always the case.

A patient care team can be made up of individuals from different departments of the healthcare organization and these individuals can be a part of more than one patient care team. This is one of the reasons why Care Team Coordination is relevant to a patient care team. For a group of healthcare practitioners to constitute a patient care team, they would have to have explicitly defined roles and meet regularly in patient care. These teams usually cross practice and organizational boundaries for example general surgery practitioners and neurosurgery. This cross-disciplinary care teams sometimes could experience communication nightmares, power struggle or disagreement in decision making.

Also, in a patient care team, there are non-medical staff members that perform supplementary functions. Some of these functions are paperwork, logistics, giving injections, taking patient blood pressure, lab work, nursing care, MRI scans, patient counseling, etc. These functions could be performed by doctors but that would be inefficient as it takes away time from performing the other complex functions that require a high skill level. Effective patient care teams always exploit the varied skill set and skill levels of team members. For example in chronic disease management, the most successful interventions entail the delegation of responsibility among team members.

 Seeing how vital care team coordination is to the overall health and functionality of a patient care team, healthcare organizations always seek ways to improve the teams and the communications among the care team members. Three ways that can be done is:

Have a Patient and Family feedback system:

Having a properly functioning feedback system not only helps improve the efficiency of the care team but also helps build trusting relationships between patients and care providers. A feedback system should be at the beginning of the process not after. Having patient interviews at the start to identify their fears and help them ease into the complex procedures improves the overall care system at all levels. When patients have a proper understanding of their illness they don’t feel as overwhelmed and value the care team more and communicate better thus creating a vicious circle of efficient communication.

Make Patient engagement a priority:

The relevance of patient engagement cannot be overemphasized. The proper functioning of a patient engagement program also leads to a better patient feedback system (mentioned above). Patient engagement is necessary for a patient-centered care management system. Engaging patients helps care systems not only identify their needs but predict potential need and be proactive in solving them. One way to keep patients engaged in using the Mobile-first approach (smartphone apps) enables secure, real-time, multi-point messaging, assessments, and care planning to engage and support all care team members (patients, friends, families, social workers, care navigators, etc.) across multiple EMRs. This patient-centered approach creates a momentum that improves the quality of care, patient satisfaction, and overall efficiency. Patient satisfaction is very important in care management because if a patient is unsatisfied in most cases it could be drastic. It could mean they are not healed properly or they are still ill. This leads to the next point which is having a proper patient feedback system.

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