Remember your guidance counselor from high school? You may not have appreciated it back then, but they worked very hard behind-the-scenes to create a comprehensive picture of your educational career. They kept track of your grades, compared notes between your teachers, reminded you about important deadlines, inquired about your home life and provided support and encouragement along the way.
Imagine if teachers had to do all of this work for each of their students? There certainly wouldn’t be enough hours in the day and their teaching would ultimately suffer. Not to mention some students would likely fall through the cracks. This is the same problem faced by physicians.
Imagine if we applied the guidance counselor model to the health care industry? A person solely responsible for helping to coordinate your health care, keep track of your medications, compare notes between your physicians, and most importantly, offer guidance and answer your questions?
Thankfully, this new initiative, known as “care coordination,” is here and it’s making a name for itself in the health care industry.
Many HealthTexas Provider Network patients with chronic conditions like diabetes, heart failure and hypertension now have a dedicated professional to help them navigate through the maze of countless physicians, medications, testing and special diets.
Ann Bowers, R.N., a care coordinator with Baylor’s Health Texas Provider Network, describes it as “the best way to deal with health care she’s encountered in a nursing career spanning more than 30 years — ‘without a doubt.'”
This recent article in the Dallas Morning News highlights care coordination and spotlights some of its most compelling stories. For example, “one of the diabetics Ann follows struggled to control her disease until Ann discovered that she was paying too much for her medication. After a foul-up between the pharmacist and insurer was settled, the woman’s medicine was affordable and she’s stayed with it.”
It’s these kinds of errors that actually end up costing the health care industry–and patients–millions of dollars. In fact, coordination failures were estimated to account for between $25 billion and $45 billion in needless health care spending in 2011, according to the Dallas Morning News.
But thanks to people like Ann, patients will not only benefit from better coordination of their health care, but care coordinators may actually save them from costly and dangerous medical errors.