Improving the Continuity of Care

By Lee Horner, CEO, Synzi
Twitter: @SynziCare
Twitter: @lee_a_horner

The continuity of care is defined as the integration and coordination of medical information and care across a patient’s specific providers and related settings / facilities. Healthcare organizations are focused on improving the continuity of care in order to minimize unnecessary procedures, readmissions and transfers.

Patients and members experience may suffer when a health care system’s care is care poorly coordinated. For example, the population with chronic illnesses may see many different providers, at many different settings / facilities. Coordination and collaboration is not necessarily universal; little or no communication across providers and venues may negatively impact patient experiences, related costs, and overall outcomes.

In order to improve the continuity of care, healthcare organizations need to ensure that the broader care team internalizes and integrates their delivery of care for each individual patient / member situation. As more healthcare organizations and providers aim to deliver patient-centric care, technology can be used to drive better internalization and integration, resulting in better coordination and collaboration – and better care for the individual patient or member.

Virtual visits and virtual meetings are emerging as a convenient way to improve coordination and collaboration. From reducing travel time and related costs to resolving miscommunication amongst care providers and facilities, a virtual care platform can help improve the continuity of care in the following ways:

  1. Real-time Communication: The various providers can conduct virtual meetings to bring together the key care team members, regardless of role and facility. This alleviates the need for providers to travel to other locations to ensure care is well coordinated at the various transition points.
  2. Responsive Concern: As needed, care team members can escalate critical questions and concerns to appropriate providers and specialists. If an in-person intervention or appointment is needed, a care team member can also arrange for appropriate transportation to the next care setting.
  3. Reduced Readmissions: Medical staff and pharmacists can reinforce core patient education by aligning on how and when to communicate the rationale of a new treatment plan or new care setting. With a virtual visit, patients and members can remain comfortably at home and on track with their evolving treatment plan vs. returning to a clinician’s office or the hospital to have questions answered and care administered.

Integrated and impactful care can be delivered outside of an organization’s four walls if all care team members actively coordinate and collaborate on behalf of the individual patient or member. The more healthcare facilities, care team providers, and patients / members realize that a virtual care platform improves experiences, costs, and outcomes, the faster virtual visits and meetings will be embraced across care settings.

This article was originally published on the Synzi Blog and is republished here with permission.