9 Key Functions of Quality Improvement Coaches and Care Managers

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Facilitators, or quality improvement coaches, and care managers are key roles in a primary care team, according to a special report in Annals of Family Medicine.

The report, " Enhancing the Primary Care Team to Provide Redesigned Care: The Roles of Practice Facilitators and Care Managers," examines how facilitators and care managers can provide quality improvement guidance and coordinate care for primary care patients.

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According to the report, facilitators can help primary care teams in their quality improvement efforts in several ways, including the following:

•    Help practices organize, prioritize and sequence QI activities and achieve medical home recognition
•    Train practice staff to understand and use data effectively to drive QI
•    Increase practice capacity for continuous QI activities, and create and maintain an ongoing QI infrastructure within the practice
•    Build a team orientation and promote effective communication patterns among practice staff, and help to create a practice culture that is receptive to change

In contrast to facilitators, care managers work directly with patients to help guide them through the healthcare system and coordinate care. Care managers are also known as care coordinators, patient navigators and patient coaches. They perform several important tasks, including the following, according to the report:

•    Assess (and regularly reassess) patients' care needs
•    Develop, reinforce and monitor care plans
•    Provide education and encourage self-management
•    Communicate information across clinicians and settings
•    Connect patients to community resources and social services

While facilitators and care managers can significantly benefit primary care teams, funding these roles can be challenging, according to the report. However, there are some avenues, including federally funded programs and shared savings programs, which can finance these positions.

More Articles on Primary Care and Care Coordination:

AHA: Hospitals Should Transition From Traditional "Hospitals" to "Health Systems"
Patient Navigators Play Key Role in Improving Quality, Lowering Costs

AHRQ Awards Contracts to Improve Surgical Safety, Primary Care

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