Care Coordination is Too Manual — Throw Your Staff a Lifeline!

By Cindy Gaines, Chief Clinical Transformation Officer, Lumeon

It’s no secret that workforce issues in healthcare – labor shortages, stressed and burned-out staff – are top of mind for health system executives everywhere, raising many questions for leaders to grapple with. As we sit on the huge backlog for elective procedures and screening, how can we manage those waiting lists to ensure the most critical patients are prioritized without others falling behind and ending up on a critical list too? How can we monitor those patients, keep them as healthy as possible, and well-prepared for their appointments? How can we get more patients through the system and still deliver the individualized care they need with the staff we already have? How do we do all this while simultaneously improving the clinician and staff experience?

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One thing’s for sure; we can’t do all that manually, and it’s not just an administration issue – it’s clinical, too.

With the staff shortage being felt so dramatically in healthcare and a workforce burnt out by the strains of the pandemic, the coordination of care can’t continue to be as manual as it currently is today. And we can’t just throw technology at the problem and expect it not to add more strain on staff, rather than reduce it.

Most care coordination tasks – scheduling appointments, following up with patients, care planning, managing care transitions, or tracking down lab orders and results – are carried out by people. Healthcare systems may try to hire more staff to perform these activities or add “one more thing” to existing personnel. Often, the administrative burden is placed on clinical staff, removing them from direct patient care.

It’s time to throw your staff a lifeline and do things differently.

  1. Look at the people – what are clinicians tied up with, and what would give them more quality time with patients? What are administrative staff doing that could be carried out instead through technology? Figure out what will make their lives easier and where the thoughtful integration of automation could have the greatest positive impact.
  2. Look at the processes – what is being done manually and by who and why? What could be most easily automated? Understand the workflows, identify opportunities to eliminate tasks, automate communication, coordinate team members, and eliminate wasteful activity that does not conform to best practice.
  3. Look at the patients – what would give them a more streamlined interaction? When do they need direct contact with a clinician, and what could be automated? Coordinate activities and communications to create individualized experiences for the patients that are more efficient and accessible while also empowering clinicians and staff to spend their time with those patients that really need the human touch.

Reducing the manual nature of coordinating care may sound complex and daunting. The reality is that technology is now available to automate and improve care coordination across large volumes of patients efficiently and effectively while enhancing quality. Intelligently automating complex, repetitive, routine, and people-dependent care coordination workflows enables more to be done with fewer resources. It empowers care delivery teams to work at the top of their licenses.

Care orchestration technology combines real-time data with clinical intelligence and algorithms to identify patient risk, triage patients appropriately, and automate tasks, activities, events, and workflow usually carried out by humans. It has been proven to save clinicians and staff time and enable them to focus on priority patients.

Synchronizing the patient and care team workflows ensures tasks are completed within the specified time windows in-line with best practices. This also reduces the cost of care and increases patient satisfaction while reducing patient backlog.

So, throw your staff a lifeline, reduce the manual tasks, and advance the automation of care coordination – bring back the joy at work for your clinicians and the team! For more on care orchestration and how to effectively automate care coordination.