We recently released a case study about the Northern Physicians Organization and their pursuit to improve care coordination to drive high-quality outcomes and reduce the cost of care delivery.
“Better coordination of care services between our physicians and other providers is central to our goal of helping our members achieve the Triple Aim objective of improving the patient experience of care (both quality and satisfaction), improving the health of populations, and reducing the cost of care,” explains Dr. Peter Sneed, NPO Board of Directors.
The Northern Physicians Organization (NPO) is a large physician organization based in Traverse City, Michigan. NPO has over 500 physician members across Northern Michigan from practices of all sizes and specialties. Founded in 1984, NPO’s focus is to align doctor’s processes, communications, best practices, and ideas.
The ability to exchange electronic information about different aspects of care involved in a patient’s journey is an integral part of improving care coordination and as a result reduces the possibilities of breakdowns in care delivery during transitions of care.
When we reviewed the NPO case study, we realized that just like care coordination, their story is multi-faceted and can be broken down into a number of subtopics. For this reason, we’ve decided to introduce a short blog series called “Improving Care Coordination with Integration”. Over the next few weeks, we will take a look at the following:
- Electronic Medical Record (EMR) Integration
- Health Information Exchange (HIE)
- Value-based Reimbursements
Let’s start off with a bit about care coordination.
What is Care Coordination?
Care Coordination is a major undertaking and goal in the healthcare industry. It is defined by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality as “…deliberately organizing patient care activities and sharing information among all of the participants concerned with a patient’s care to achieve safer and more effective care.” It involves the collaboration between many different providers, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, behavioral health specialists, insurance plans, community-based organizations, and many more.
Why is Care Coordination Important?
Care Coordination is important because it improves the entire healthcare system for patients, providers and payers:
- Patients’ needs and preferences are better met and the flow of information reduces the effort placed on patients (i.e., explaining health condition several times, trying to recall and recite all medications, etc.)
- Healthcare providers are given the necessary information and medical history to make accurate assessments and decisions rather than having to administer redundant tests or make decisions based on a lack of information
- Care coordination improves the efficiency of the entire system resulting in a reduction of costs from improper diagnoses, duplicative diagnostic tests, corrective procedures, unnecessary emergency room visits, hospital readmissions, etc.
Care Coordination and Data Integration
Care coordination has a lot of moving parts and while the exchange of information is just one, its importance cannot be overlooked. The role of integration in improving the fragmented nature of care transitions from provider to provider is to ensure accurate and up-to-date patient health information is available and distributed among all providers with an active care relationship with a particular patient. The automation of this electronic information has many benefits including:
- Increased Productivity – data does not need to be entered in multiple systems, multiple times freeing up time for other, more important tasks
- Reduced Costs – access to better information leads to better decision making and ultimately lowers costs
- Error Reduction – automation means less manual data entry, which results in less errors
- Data accessibility – all stakeholders have access to the information they need at the time they need it
- Better Communication– all providers with active relationships with a patient can share information with each other
The NPO Perspective
To support NPO’s Triple Aim objective (improving patient experience, improving the health of populations, and reducing the cost of care), they partnered with us (iNTERFACEWARE) to deploy the Iguana integration engine to ensure that patient information is available to all necessary providers.
“Our commitment to invest in information technology enables us to communicate as well as, if not better than, most communities around the country,” Sneed states. “Our partnership with iNTERFACEWARE allows us to continue to improve and expand upon those efforts.”
Next week, we will begin to address the steps that NPO took in solving their challenges of communication when we discuss EMR integration. In particular, we will focus on the challenge of dealing with multiple EMRs using multiple data formats.
In the meantime, if you’d like to talk to us about your care coordination challenges, EMR integration, or anything else integration related, please feel free to contact us.