Care Coordination Online Directories vs Care Coordination Networks: What is the Difference?


The internet has forever changed the way we consume goods and services. Transactions that used to take days or weeks to complete are now accomplished in a manner of minutes. Users have become accustomed to the convenience and wide selection available in online transactions ranging from shopping to home rentals or to buying a new car.

Even highly personal services such as dating, employment interviews, obtaining healthcare, or viewing medical results are now routinely conducted online. With a large percentage of the population accustomed to turning to the internet first, it is no surprise that healthcare and community providers have taken advantage of online access to help patients locate service providers.

A number of online directories have sprung up that allow a user to search for providers based on medical and behavioral health or social determinant needs. Users can locate providers based on geographic location, office hours available, language spoken, or other criteria. These online directories take advantage of the convenience, privacy, and accessibility of internet transactions to enable patients to self-refer to participating providers.

But just like ordering a product from Amazon, after the initial transaction occurs, a critical behind-the-scenes coordination effort is required to make the transaction a success. This is particularly true of complex interactions, such as delivering medical, behavioral health, or community service care. And that’s where online directories often come up short.

Online directories primarily focus on the online self-referral experience at the expense of provider-to-provider referrals or provider collaboration on a shared patient. In a new white paper from Eccovia Solutions, the care network model is defined, described, and compared to online directories.

Care networks take the best of both worlds, preserving the benefit of online directories while including tools for providers to communicate and collaborate on shared cases after the initial referral is made. Rather than serving as simply a unidirectional self-referral platform, care networks provide a rich platform for providers to manage whole patient care. Tools such as a shared care plan, provider-to-provider communication, and the inclusion of expanded care networks are crucial to coordinating care among multiple providers, ultimately resulting in better patient care.

And care networks are most effective when they utilize a shared platform that facilitates provider-to-provider referrals. A care coordination platform breaks down the barriers that separate different providers by creating a shared database from which newly enrolled individuals can be referred to any provider within the network from any point in the network, ensuring patients receive whatever level and type of care is appropriate: a medical provider may refer a patient to a community services provider, for example, if the patient is in need of food assistance, employment, or an improved housing situation. Providers continue to collaborate on patient care after the referral is made, ensuring all providers are informed of care provided elsewhere. And with a closed-loop referral process, referral outcomes and patient progress are recorded so that deficiencies or issues in a patient’s care can be identified and addressed, so no one needs to fall through the cracks.

Care networks match the convenience and ease of online transactions with the sophisticated back-end system necessary to make online transactions successful. Care networks are improving care delivery, reducing healthcare costs, and yielding better patient outcomes.

Learn more about care collaboration tools and the care networks they support by downloading Eccovia Solutions’ new white paper, “Optimizing Referrals Across Community Services and Healthcare Providers.”

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