Innovative Approach to Patient-Centered Care Coordination in Primary Care Practices

Published in: The American Journal of Managed Care, v. 21, no. 9, Sep. 2015, p. 623-630

Posted on RAND.org on November 13, 2015

by Robin Clarke, Nazleen Bharmal, Paul D. Di Capua, Chi-Hong Tseng, Carol Mangione, Brian Mittman, Samuel A. Skootsky

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OBJECTIVES: Although care coordination is an essential component of the patient-centered medical home structure, current case manager models have limited usefulness to population health because they typically serve a small group of patients defined based on disease or utilization. Our objective was to support our health system's population health by implementing and evaluating a program that embedded nonlicensed coordinators within our primary care practices to support physicians in executing care plans and communicating with patients. STUDY DESIGN: Matched case-control differences-in-differences. METHODS: Comprehensive care coordinators (CCC) were introduced into 14 of the system's 28 practice sites in 2 waves. After a structured training program, CCCs identified, engaged, and intervened among patients within the practice in conjunction with practice primary care providers. We counted and broadly coded CCC activities that were documented in the intervention database. We examined the impact of CCC intervention on emergency department (ED) utilization at the practice level using a negative binomial multivariate regression model controlling for age, gender, and medical complexity. RESULTS: CCCs touched 10,500 unique patients over a 1-year period. CCC interventions included execution of care (38%), coordination of transitions (32%), self-management support/link to community resources (15%), monitor and follow-up (10%), and patient assessment (1%). The CCC intervention group had a 20% greater reduction in its prepost ED visit rate compared with the control group (P <. 0001). CONCLUSIONS: Our CCC intervention demonstrated a significant reduction in ED visits by focusing on the centrality of the primary care provider and practice. Our model may serve as a cost-effective and scalable alternative for care coordination in primary care.

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