Health Services Research & Development

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Mohr DC, Benzer JK, Vimalananda VG, Singer SJ, Meterko M, McIntosh N, Harvey KLL, Seibert MN, Charns MP. Organizational Coordination and Patient Experiences of Specialty Care Integration. Journal of general internal medicine. 2019 May 1; 34(Suppl 1):30-36.
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Abstract: BACKGROUND: Delivering care to patients with complex healthcare needs benefits from coordination among healthcare providers. Greater levels of care coordination have been associated with more favorable patient experiences, cost management, and lower utilization of services. Organizational approaches consider how systems, practices, and relationships influence coordination and associated outcomes. OBJECTIVE: Examine measures of organizational coordination and their association with patient experiences of care coordination involving specialists. DESIGN: Cross-sectional surveys of patients and primary care providers (PCPs). PARTICIPANTS: Final sample included 3183 patients matched to 233 PCPs from the Veterans Health Administration. All patients had a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes mellitus and one of four other conditions: hypertension; congestive heart failure; depression/anxiety; or severe mental illness/posttraumatic stress disorder. MAIN MEASURES: Patients completed a survey assessing perceptions of coordinated care. We examined ratings on three domains: specialist knowledge management; knowledge integration across settings and time; and knowledge fragmentation across settings and time. We created care coordination measures involving the PCP and three specialty provider types. PCPs provided ratings on relational coordination for specialists, feedback coordination, and team coordination. We aligned patient's specialty services used with corresponding PCP ratings of that specialty. KEY RESULTS: Patient ratings were significantly lower on specialist knowledge management and knowledge integration when either PCPs did not use feedback coordination (b = - .20; b = - .17, respectively) or rated feedback coordination lower (b = - .08 for both). Teamwork was significantly related to specialist knowledge management (b = .06), knowledge integration (b = .04); and knowledge fragmentation (b = - .04). Relational coordination was related to coordination between the primary care provider and (i) diabetes specialist (b = .09) and (ii) mental health provider (b = .12). CONCLUSIONS: Practices to improve provider coordination within and across primary care and specialty care services may improve patient experiences of care coordination. Improvements in these areas may improve care efficiency and effectiveness.