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Creeping Toward Care Coordination

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, June 13, 2012
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This article appears in the June 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Initiating collaborative relationships is the key to improved quality, most healthcare leaders say. Many also agree that major increases in HIT spending are necessary, but others are more cautious about spending for technology improvements. And more than two-thirds see transparency as improving quality of care, while a sizeable minority has reservations about it, according to the 2012 HealthLeaders Media Economics of Better Care Survey.

Teamwork is an emerging focus, with nearly three-quarters (72%) entering collaborative care relationships, while 28% say they are not. At the same time, healthcare leaders are reluctant to engage in shared savings programs as a risk-sharing cost-reduction tactic: 63% say they have no plans for such programs, which are a foundation of the evolving accountable care organization models.

Michelle Mahan, CFO of the 309-licensed-and-staffed-bed Frederick (Md.) Regional Health System, says the survey shows that health systems are moving slowly into the collaborative models, especially in light of their expressed concerns over shared savings and cautiousness over transparency.

"There's better coordination of care that is taking place, but we're at the starting point; it's definitely in its infancy," Mahan says. "The healthcare continuum lacks alignment; however, it is moving in the right direction with certain new incentives, such as reducing readmissions. People are still getting too sick and going back to the hospital. We need to do a better job of preventive care, with patient-centered medical homes, for instance. On the whole issue of care coordination, no question, we can do better."

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