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Care coordination between specialty care and primary care: a focus group study of provider perspectives on strong practices and improvement opportunities

Authors Kim B, Lucatorto M, Hawthorne K, Hersh J, Myers R, Elwy AR, Graham GD

Received 30 August 2014

Accepted for publication 29 October 2014

Published 22 January 2015 Volume 2015:8 Pages 47—58

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JMDH.S73469

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser


Bo Kim,1,2 Michelle A Lucatorto,3 Kara Hawthorne,4 Janis Hersh,5 Raquel Myers,6 A Rani Elwy,1,7 Glenn D Graham8

1Center for Healthcare Organization and Implementation Research, Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial VA Hospital, Bedford, 2Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, 3Office of Nursing Services, Department of Veterans Affairs, 4Chief Business Office, Purchased Care, Washington, DC, 5New England Veterans Engineering Resource Center, Boston, MA, 6SJ Quinney College of Law, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, 7Department of Health Policy and Management, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, 8Specialty Care Services (10P4E), Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, DC, USA

Abstract: Care coordination between the specialty care provider (SCP) and the primary care provider (PCP) is a critical component of safe, efficient, and patient-centered care. Veterans Health Administration conducted a series of focus groups of providers, from specialty care and primary care clinics at VA Medical Centers nationally, to assess 1) what SCPs and PCPs perceive to be current practices that enable or hinder effective care coordination with one another and 2) how these perceptions differ between the two groups of providers. A qualitative thematic analysis of the gathered data validates previous studies that identify communication as being an important enabler of coordination, and uncovers relationship building between specialty care and primary care (particularly through both formal and informal relationship-building opportunities such as collaborative seminars and shared lunch space, respectively) to be the most notable facilitator of effective communication between the two sides. Results from this study suggest concrete next steps that medical facilities can take to improve care coordination, using as their basis the mutual understanding and respect developed between SCPs and PCPs through relationship-building efforts.

Keywords: referral and consultation, interdepartmental relations, multidisciplinary communication, qualitative research

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