5 Ways to Be Part of a Coordinated Care Team
By Sarah Stasik, Contributor
Nurses know that treating the whole patient is critical to long-term, successful outcomes. That's where coordinated care models come in — they allow healthcare teams to work together to provide patients with appropriate medical and social services.
Patients with chronic conditions, complex illnesses and disabilities typically use more healthcare service than other individuals, and patient care coordination benefits both patient and provider by creating efficiencies, reducing communication issues and errors, managing costs and expectations and ensuring patient preferences are involved in decision-making.
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5 ways nurses can help provide coordinated care
1. Actively establish accountability
"Coordinated care requires every person to know what they should be doing and to do it," says Lisa Ogea, RN. But if responsibilities aren't laid out clearly, that can spell trouble for the patient. Ogea says nurses and other providers must work together to establish who is responsible for which aspect of the patient's care early on during patient care coordination.
2. Be willing to step out of comfort zones
Adrian Mesa, RN, BSN, talks about coordinating care efforts for a variety of patients in Haiti. And while most coordinated care looks a little different, his experience does bring up a valid point. Nurses who are part of coordinated care models must be willing to step outside of traditional roles (in an appropriate and policy-oriented way) to fully serve their patients.
3. Engage in patient education
Nurses are typically at the front line of patient education in any position, and coordinated care is no different. Make sure patients understand the importance of coordinating care and what each provider is doing for them. Nurses may want to address potential healthcare myths and fears about care with patients, so everyone is comfortable with the model of service.
4. Realize that all providers depend on each other
Successful coordinated care requires providers at all levels to rely on each other. RNs and any provider involved in these care models must learn to work seamlessly within a team.
5. Partner with the patient in decision making
Finally, understand that coordinated care models are different from traditional models in that they put the patient at the center of the team, along with a care coordinator. That person, sometimes a nurse, partners with the patient, providing the necessary explanations and accommodations so the patient can make viable decisions about his or her care. Even if you're not the care coordinator, as a nurse on the team, you should always be willing to communicate and partner with the patient.
Patient care coordination allows patients to dictate their own healthcare by working alongside multidisciplinary teams in a battle against a chronic or complex illness. Nurses take on a variety of roles in these models, with communication, patient advocacy and teamwork required at any level.