Nursing care coordination is gaining recognition and importance in the medical community nowadays. The concept of care coordination is not new to nursing but with plans for healthcare reforms in the past years, scientific studies have recommended it for patient care.
In fact, the American Nurses Association published a journal exploring its benefits in the care of older adults with multimorbidities in the US healthcare system. The journal, which was published last September 2015, outlined the functions of an effective nurse care coordinator for quality patient care outcomes.
With studies and publications recommending the benefits of care coordination, will it also be good for nurses? We explored the potential benefits of care coordination in the health care system and why nurses can look forward to it.
1. A promising key for quality healthcare system
In the past, lack of unity among healthcare workers is one of the barriers to improved healthcare delivery system. With the introduction of care coordination concept, it was predicted to be the solution in unifying the fragmented nature of the US healthcare system.
Indeed, the first experimental programs utilizing care coordination strategies proved to be beneficial. These programs targeted patients with chronic diseases. The strategies helped improve treatment outcomes while maximizing cost-efficiency of healthcare services. The program outcomes were positive as chronic diseases tend to be more costly if managed poorly.
Nurses make up a large portion of the healthcare workforce. If the healthcare delivery system will become both high quality and cost-efficient, nurses will have easier work with patients.
2. Promotes unity in healthcare
The care coordination concept encourages nurses to work cooperatively with a multi-disciplinary healthcare team. The nurse will act as the patient’s voice to other healthcare disciplines. As the nurse coordinates patient’s needs to other healthcare workers, a tailored-fit team will be formed to manage the patient’s case. Treatment outcomes will be optimally achieved if the appointed health care workers for the patient will work as a team.
This strategy in care coordination promotes unity among healthcare workers. In the past, nurses often have misunderstandings with other departments. The nurse and other healthcare workers have one goal in mind – to do and finish their own tasks. But with care coordination, all healthcare workers involved in patient care will have one unified goal – to achieve a successful treatment outcome for the patient.
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3. Makes nurses knowledgeable about other disciplines of care
When nurses serve as the patient’s coordinator of care, they will be exposed to other healthcare disciplines. Learning about other healthcare procedures outside the nursing practice improves a nurse’s skill and competency.
It is not hard to learn about other health care disciplines with proper coordination and communication. Over time, other healthcare workers will be willing to teach you about their work because you belong to the same team.
4. Improves nurses’ flexibility and resourcefulness
Care coordination challenges a nurse’s flexibility and resourcefulness. As you participate in patient care plan, you will eventually tap your existing resources. To maximize the patient’s options in healthcare, you may be also encouraged to network with other resources outside your institution’s premises. This opens a bigger world of opportunities for nurses as they expand their network of colleagues.
Being flexible and resourceful are two of the most valuable skills a nurse can have. These skills cannot be taught or learned from school. They can only be learned through experience. They are the top soft skills employers consider in a evaluating a competent nurse.
5. Improves quality of care
Patients are always the core of attention in planning nursing care. As nurses, we don’t have any higher goal than to provide quality care for patient’s health improvement. Utilizing nursing care coordination helps greatly in achieving this nurses’ common goal. Improving quality of patient care is the heart of care coordination.
The success of care coordination strategy can be validated through the quality of patient care rendered. In the past, patients usually suffer from unnecessary duplicate diagnostic tests, conflicting information from various healthcare providers and increased healthcare costs. With care coordination, these problems are eliminated. Healthcare costs are maximized and controlled without adversely affecting the quality of patient care.
So how will you know if the quality of care is improved through care coordination? The care coordination strategies used are considered successful if patient’s utilization of all other health care services referred led to positive treatment outcomes. Coordinated healthcare services may greatly vary starting from community centers up to complex treatment centers.
6. Serves as a good foundation for specialized or advanced nursing degrees
Although care coordination is pretty new in the healthcare industry, the concept is not entirely new among nurses. Even in early times, nurses are advocates of holistic care. Its principles share the same foundation with care coordination. Throughout the years, nurses are used to coordinating the care of their patients with other disciplines long before it became a revolutionary concept in the healthcare industry.
Nowadays, there are several organizations and educational institutions offering courses in care coordination. In American Nurses Association, an online course about care coordination is being offered. Care Coordination: Enhancing the RN Skill Set is an interactive blended course that awards 10.5 contact hours upon completion.
Capella University, in the meantime, offers post-degree programs in nursing that specialize in care coordination. They also offer a free Care Coordination Career Guide for those who want know how they can use care coordination concepts in advanced studies.
Various organizations are increasing the awareness for care coordination among health care providers. As nurses, we are our patients’ first line of contact in healthcare and we play a big role in implementing this concept.
If you are interested in becoming specialized in this field, there are post-degree courses dedicated to the concepts of nursing care coordination. Becoming a Care Coordinator is a good career plan for nurses who advocate patients’ health. Check your credentials and experience if you will qualify for advanced studies in Care Coordination. Determine nearby schools in your area for courses and inquire about online programs.