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Hire Care Coordinators Strategically

Lena J. Weiner, for HealthLeaders Media, April 14, 2014

The need for care coordinators is growing, but because they must be able to work with specific patient populations, careful and strategic recruiting practices are vital.

In an effort to drive down readmissions, many hospitals, clinics and healthcare systems have established the role of care coordinator to guide patients through the system and keep care programs on track.

But what a care coordinator is and what a care coordination team should look like may mean different things at different organizations.

Some are asking care coordinators to be interdisciplinary chimeras with the clinical knowledge of a registered nurse, the people skills of a social worker, the organization and planning ability of a personal assistant and a heart of gold to boot.

Unless you are very lucky, you probably won't find an entire team of people who all have those skills. So rather than focusing on a handful of exceptionally talented people, it makes more sense to hire a diverse team from varying backgrounds.

"A care coordination team is multidisciplinary. It's not just one person or one role," says Nancy Skinner, president of the Case Management Society of America and Riverside Healthcare Consulting. "Nurses and social workers have a professional background that brings the [clinical] knowledge that is necessary to begin a path to be a care coordinator… We have typically put people in this role because of the initials after their name. We can't do that anymore—we have to look at the capabilities of the person moving into that role," she says.

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2 comments on "Hire Care Coordinators Strategically"


Andrea A (4/16/2014 at 12:06 PM)
So when the first group of care coordinators churn through the system where will the next generation come from? How will you create a career satisfying enough to attract an adequate number? There is a reason that the limited discharge planning in hospitals has been done by nurses and social workers. They were already there. Nursing and social work are both professions with an established education system graduating thousands yearly who become licensed to practice. They have the authority to touch, to record and to share information. Do you have those traditions in place for all of your care coordinators? Do not depend upon the MD's to give them this authority. That is the job of the legislature.

Harvey B (4/14/2014 at 3:46 PM)
Not quite as important as your actual "Care Coordinators" but almost is a) how your organization is set up to have the proper backing for your "Care Coordinators". As an example someone can be a good working with and motivating the patient but not be great in getting a needed "walker" and other important DME supplies or transportation for the patient. A good team needs to have staff who can figure out how to deal with all the different agency to get the supplies needed for the patient B) Your written protocol backed by hard working and compassionate supervision is necessary so your care coordinators have the support and directions necessary to deliver the best care possible. Care Coordination is best as a team effort and all parts of the team should be caring and qualified to due their appointed tasks