What Is Care Coordination and Why Does It Matter?

August 2, 2022

Navigating the healthcare system can be stressful and intimidating, especially if you need referrals and special tests.

Add dealing with insurance companies, getting the results from your tests, and trying to interpret the results — and it can become a full-blown nightmare.

But what if there was someone who could navigate that process for you, be your representative, and advocate for the best care for you?

That’s what care coordination is all about.

What Is Care Coordination?

Care coordination removes the burden of organizing from the patient, putting that duty in the doctor’s hands. It’s how you would expect a doctor in your own family to care for you.

Basically, it’s everything you wish the traditional healthcare system did.

With care coordination, your physician is the quarterback of your healthcare. They lead your healthcare team and coordinate with others to make sure you get everything you need.

This includes making sure all of your specialists are communicating and that all the proper tests get done. It applies across all healthcare settings, whether you’re in the ER or a nursing home.

The healthcare system is incredibly complex. Care coordination is the way we simplify it for you.

How Does Care Coordination Work?

The Process With Traditional Primary Care

For contrast, let’s say you go to a traditional primary care doctor because you’re experiencing lower back pain.

The doctor writes you an order for an MRI, and may or may not tell you what to do with it. Now you have to get on the phone with your insurance to get approval and figure out who’s in network. Then you need to choose a location, call for their availability, and schedule an appointment.

After the appointment, you wait for a phone call. You wonder how long it will take, or if they forgot about you. Then when they call, you’re not quite sure how to proceed from there.

Will you need more tests?

Will you need to see a specialist?

It’s a lot to navigate, especially when you’re in pain.

The Process With Care Coordination

Now let’s say you go to your direct primary care doctor for that lower back pain.

When your doctor decides you need an MRI, they work with their team to call your insurance for you, get the test approved, and find out where you can go. Then they call to schedule the appointment for you and communicate any pre-imaging instructions to you.

All you have to do is show up for the MRI.

After the appointment, your physician makes sure the MRI results arrive in a timely manner and helps you understand them. They’ll also let you know if you need further testing or treatment. If you need to see a specialist, they’ll coordinate that as well.

How Patients Benefit From Care Coordination

Care coordination is a lot like having a doctor in your family, and it comes with all the benefits you’d imagine.

One of the biggest benefits of care coordination for patients is that care is streamlined. You don’t have to waste valuable time calling your insurance company and tracking down imaging centers or specialists. You know exactly where you need to go and when, and you can just focus on getting better. When you’re sick or in pain, you shouldn’t have to deal with frustrating administrative legwork.

Another benefit of care coordination is that your physician can follow up on test results. You don’t have to sit around waiting or calling the office to see if your results are ready; you can rely on your doctor to let you know.

What Is Care Coordination and Why Does It Matter? InfographicWithout care coordination, patients are thrown into the midst of medical conversations about medical procedures with medical professionals. It’s confusing, and it’s a model that really makes no sense. With care coordination, you can rest easy knowing that those conversations are in the hands of medical professionals working together for your care and benefit.

As part of coordinating your care, your doctor will help you understand what’s going on with your body. They’ll explain your test results, and, if you need treatment, they’ll help you understand why. This helps to stratify the importance of any issues you’re experiencing, up-playing or downplaying them appropriately.

How Physicians Benefit From Care Coordination

Patients aren’t the only ones who benefit from care coordination. Physicians benefit because it aligns with and facilitates our philosophy of care. We believe patients deserve this level of attention, and care coordination allows us to provide it. It’s the way medicine should be practiced.

When patients need tests, care coordination guarantees we get test results in a timely way. It also means we can be more hands-on when ordering tests, guaranteeing that the test you get is the one you actually need. For example, a colonoscopy and a colposcopy are very different tests, but very similar-sounding words that a person could easily confuse. Care coordination ensures you get the one that’s right for you.

When your physician accompanies you to a specialist appointment as part of care coordination, they can take in and interpret all the medical information shared in that visit. Medical terminology can be complicated and confusing, especially in a stressful situation, so having your physician there to communicate directly with the specialist can make an enormous difference.

It takes the pressure to remember unfamiliar terms and confusing instructions off of you and puts the responsibility into your physician’s hands.

What Is the Care Coordination Experience Like?

Patients report a sense of relief from working with a doctor who coordinates their care. They’re grateful to have an advocate helping them navigate an often frustrating healthcare system, so that they don’t have to do it alone.

This is why Priority Physicians provides care coordination. It’s how medicine should be practiced, and it leads to better outcomes for everyone involved.

Dr. Jonathan Schmidt

Dr. Schmidt is a board-certified family medicine physician with undergraduate degrees in Microbiology and medicine from Southern Illinois University and the University of Illinois. He completed his residency at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in South Bend, IN and has a passion for putting his patients first in his practice. In his free time, Dr. Schmidt enjoys spending time with his family and participating in outdoor activities such as water sports and woodworking.

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