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Defining Care Coordination

There are many definitions and concepts associated with care coordination. A technical review on care coordination conducted by the Stanford University-University of California, San Francisco Evidence-based Practice Center identified more than 40 distinct definitions of care coordination. The researchers found that the care coordination definitions shared five common elements:

  • Numerous participants are involved
  • Participants are dependent upon each other's knowledge, skills, and services
  • Participants require knowledge about their roles and available resources
  • Participants exchange information among themselves
  • The ultimate goal of care coordination is to facilitate the appropriate delivery of healthcare services

Based on their analysis, the researchers proposed a broad working definition of care coordination:

“The deliberate organization of patient care activities between two or more participants (including the patient) involved in a patient’s care to facilitate the appropriate delivery of healthcare services. Organizing care involves the marshaling of personnel and other resources needed to carry out all required patient care activities and is often managed by the exchange of information among participants responsible for different aspects of care.”

The Institute of Medicine's Priority Areas for National Action: Transforming Health Care Quality (2003) defines care coordination as:

“The extent to which patient care services are coordinated across people, functions, activities, and sites over time so as to maximize the value of services delivered to patients.”

Many definitions of care coordination also state a purpose for care coordination activities such as improved quality of care and improved health outcomes.

Resources to Learn More

Care Coordination and Transition Management Definitions
Document
Provides several definitions for care coordination and transitional care.
Organization(s): American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing
Date: 7/2015

Closing the Quality Gap: A Critical Analysis of Quality Improvement Strategies, Volume 7: Care Coordination
Document
A systematic review of quality improvement strategies, which identified over 40 definitions of care coordination. The report developed one broad working definition for care coordination.
Organization(s): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Author(s): McDonald, K.M., Sundaram, V., Bravata, D.M., Lewis, R., Lin, N., Kraft, S., McKinnon, M., Paguntalan, H. & Owens, D.K.
Date: 6/2007

The Promise of Care Coordination: Transforming Health Care Delivery
Document
This resources provides a definition of care coordination, description of strategies to achieve care coordination, and key factors for success.
Organization(s): Families USA
Date: 4/2013