4 Steps to a Winning Continuum of Care Strategy

To win a relay race, you don’t just need four capable and competent athletes. The key to victory is to make sure every team coordinates their efforts into a seemingly flawless display of talent and precision for the smoothest and most effective circuit around the track.

The same is true in healthcare. Patients not only need qualified professionals but also those who can connect with each other in a timely, efficient, and comprehensive manner to ensure the best patient care possible.

Here are some steps to make sure you’re fully aware of the importance of this issue and that you’ve positioned yourself to become part of its solution.

1. Take notice of the changing healthcare landscape.

The best way to address an issue is to correctly define it. In the world of patient continuum of care, not only is the healthcare world changing — as is the case with most industries — the change is coming at a faster rate with increasingly more complexity and far-reaching consequences. Some of the greatest changes are in the areas of data collection, assessment, and optimization.

In the vast and specialized world of healthcare, where individual providers can’t singlehandedly meet the needs of any given patient, an entire team of professionals is needed, some with similar and others with more diverse levels of expertise. From the doctor who diagnoses to the specialist who operates to the professional who provides post-operative care, healthcare truly is a group effort.

Smoother coordination and efficient transferal of information and services is just like that all-important relay race handoff. To be oblivious, ambivalent, or dismissive of these concerns is to put the entire race – and patients’ needs – in jeopardy.

2. Become more self-aware of your position in the process.

Just as important as identifying the problem – the “So what?” question – is finding out where you fit in the entire scheme of things – the “Who, me?” question. In healthcare’s unique and extensive web of specialization, it’s easy to get myopically lost in one’s own area of expertise and forget that you have a specific place and a purpose within the grander scheme of things.

Self-assessing where your level of expertise and experience falls in the patient’s continuum of care will tell you where you fit in among the many needs of your patients. It’ll also give you a bird’s eye view of the interdependency of each discipline.

3. Know your teammates.

You need only to watch the last 4×100 meter men’s relay race at last summer’s Olympics in Rio to understand the value of effective networking. Unfortunately for the U.S.  team, the handoff between the first and second legs of the race was not made within the required takeover zone. They didn’t effectively communicate and make the transition – and they were disqualified. Everyone suffered for it.

How many vibrant and effective partnerships does your practice have? Do you only know them peripherally or do you work with them closely and often? Is establishing and developing them an inconvenience or a commitment? This isn’t just about networking; it’s about building and developing a team who know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and are constantly looking to improve their relationships and effectiveness. It goes without saying that you’ve got to be able to trust your teammates if you’re going to provide your patient with highest quality care.

4. Develop a commitment to integration and action.

Of course, none of these steps make sense if your intentions and aspirations never make it out of the business meeting and into your corporate philosophy and ultimately become a part of the way you do business in the future. Four athletes can be optimistic and well-intentioned in winning a race, but they can only achieve victory if they lace up their shoes and run the race.

Keeping up with the speed and vast amount of change that healthcare is facing isn’t an option for business viability; it’s a necessity. And in the patient continuum of care, unless you’re becoming more aware of these changes, seeing where you fit in the overall picture, looking to forge more intimate and strong relationship, and committing yourself to integration and execution, you’re likely to suffer extreme consequences in the future.

Be ready, able, and willing to do your part in the race. Your patients are counting on you.

Posted in: Business Practices