Rural care coordination programs must consider the resources and costs required for program implementation. Beyond staffing, care coordination programs require funding, resources to support the exchange of information, partnerships with community organizations and services, and technology.
Funding. Care coordination programs require funding and monetary resources. Several care coordination models may have substantial costs associated with implementation, for example the upfront costs of forming an accountable care organization (ACO). Although financing can be a barrier for implementing some of these models, care coordination can help rural providers, lower overall healthcare costs and increase savings for patients while also improving outcomes.
Information Exchange. The exchange of information is central to care coordination programs. Resources are required to support information exchange to connect disparate providers, payers, and services in rural programs.
Technology. Some program models, such as the Health Information Technology Model, involve the use of tools and technology to support care coordination. Technology platforms can help to establish workflows, connect providers in different locations, and integrate health and human services systems. HIT systems can be costly for small organizations and health practices, and require training and considerations for staff hours. Broadband access is necessary for data exchange using HIT systems which can be a challenge in some rural areas.
Partnerships with community organizations and services. Care coordination programs help connect patients to different health and social services and require knowledge and relationships with community resources. Building partnerships with local community organizations is an important step to being able to connect patients to needed services.
Resources to Learn More
Coordination – A Comprehensive Development Toolkit
This toolkit contains resources and guidance for developing community-based care coordination programs. The toolkit includes links to different tools to help in developing care coordination programs, as well as assessment tools and checklists to help with improving existing programs.