LITTLE ROCK, AR
, November 16, 2006
— Representatives from 13 leading U.S. organizations and companies met recently as a newly formed coalition to address the barriers and gaps that occur when patients, especially older adults, leave one healthcare setting and move to another. This is becoming an increasingly serious U.S. healthcare issue.
The National Transitions of Care Coalition (NTOCC) is being led by the Case Management Society of America (CMSA) and is sponsored by sanofi aventis U.S. LLC.
Transitions in care settings include patients moving from primary care to specialty physicians; within the hospital, it would include patients moving from the emergency department to various departments, such as surgery or intensive care, or when patients are discharged from the hospital and go home or to assisted living arrangements or skilled nursing facilities.
The NTOCC participants agreed that transitions of care is a major issue in the United States and can only be solved by breaking down the silos and barriers between different health care settings and working collaboratively for the good of the patient. An initial full-day meeting brought together experts representing associations, and multiple organizations from the health care industry, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, hospital administrators, social workers, assisted living professionals, pharmaceutical, industry, regulators, and accrediting organizations. Critical input was also provided by non-health care organizations representing older adult citizens and employers.
Each attendee outlined the significance of transitions of care issues from their perspective and described the barriers that prevent effective collaboration. The comments provided a unique opportunity to share viewpoints that highlighted inadequacies of the fragmented health care system today in meeting the needs of elderly patients. Time constraints, lack of communication, redundant procedures, and poor transition processes from one care setting to another lead to confusion, inefficiency, and possible life-threatening situations for patients.
“We feel it is essential to address the serious health issues facing older patients. Without adequate assistance, many elderly persons do not get the care they need when they transition from one level or location of care to another. Social workers and case managers can help patients navigate through the health care system and assure seamless transitions and high quality care. Being part of the National Transitions of Care Coalition will help us address these concerns collaboratively with other health care professionals,” stated Elizabeth Clark, Executive Director, National Association of Social Workers (NASW).
The NTOCC participants agreed that the only effective way to solve this critical problem is to have health care industry professionals, consumer groups, employers, payers, government, regulators, and accrediting organizations work together. This initial meeting of the coalition concluded with the formation of three working groups:
- One group will focus on “Awareness and Education” to increase general knowledge of the problems associated with transitions of care and provide the necessary information to various critical stakeholders – patients, caregivers, health care professionals, and government officials.
- Another group will focus on “Health Policy Issues” to discuss ways to improve care including the possibility of enhanced reimbursement for transitional care support and technical medical information sharing between care settings.
- A third group committed to building practical tools and resources that can be used by health care professionals, caregivers, and patients to improve communication between care settings and reduce the risks associated with care transitions.
The NTOCC will provide the framework for each group to produce actionable information and tools to be implemented in solving transition of care issues. The NTOCC work groups and their efforts will be ongoing over the coming year to improve care for seniors.
"Transitions of care experienced by the elderly in long term care result in medication-related problems and significant morbidity. Consultant pharmacists are in a unique position to participate in multidisciplinary initiatives and solutions to these problems. I look forward to representing consultant pharmacists, as a member of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, in the development of tools and educational initiatives to improve these transitions for our frail elderly" said Ed Davidson, with the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists.
The initial meeting of the National Transitions of Care Coalition was held on October 18, 2006, in Chicago, Ill. Participating groups included the American Society on Aging, American Geriatrics Society, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Research and Education Foundation, American College of Healthcare Executives, American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, Institute of Healthcare Improvement, Case Management Society of America, Joint Commission International Center for Patient Safety, Lipitz Center for Integrated Health Care, Mid-America Coalition on Health Care, National Association of Social Workers, sanofi-aventis U.S. LLC, Society of Hospital Medicine, and URAC.
For additional information, contact Cheri Lattimer, (501) 225-2229 ext. 1144 of Case Management Society of America (CMSA) or Marc Greene, (212) 551-4400 of sanofi-aventis. ###