In a recent policy brief, researchers with the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI) Health Panel, based at the University of Iowa College of Public Health, say that care coordination is emerging as a key strategy to improving patient care and population health, especially among rural populations. Many of these populations have economic barriers to healthcare and more prevalent health risk factors, such as smoking and obesity and could benefit from care coordination efforts.
Care coordination reflects a growing recognition that the social determinants of health, such as income, education, environment, and behavior are just as important as traditional clinical interventions in determining health and health outcomes. The researchers identify care coordination as an opportunity to supplement diagnosis and treatment priorities with clinical and nonclinical prevention and management in a system that also supports the social aspects of patients’ lives that contribute to health.
The RUPRI Health Panel’s brief states that several fundamental building blocks must be a part of successful care coordination efforts including timely and effective information exchange, a trained care coordination workforce that helps people and communities optimize health, and the capability to continuously evaluate and improve care coordination programs.
“Care coordination capacity helps patients and families to receive care locally (when appropriate), reducing time, travel, and stress, while assuring high quality care and positive patient experiences,” according to the report. “It has the potential to reduce overall health care costs by reducing duplicate services, increasing health care delivery efficiency, and promoting the best use of clinical and nonclinical services that help people achieve their health goals.
In addition, the researchers say that investment in integrative strategies such as care coordination also may result in significant rural community benefit including local economic development, population health maintenance and improvement, workforce productivity, meaningful local employment, and jobs for less skilled health system staff.
Read the full RUPRI brief here: http://cph.uiowa.edu/rupri/publications/policypapers/RUPRICareCoordination.pdf