Improving care coordination for children with special health care needs and their families is the goal of two grants awarded March 1 by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health.
Families, health care payers, and providers all are interested in the potential of care coordination to reduce health care costs and improve quality, but achieving quality care coordination has proven to be a complex undertaking. Researchers around the country currently are investigating key issues such as agreeing on care coordination goals; defining covered services and their intensity and duration; eligibility criteria; consideration of social factors affecting health; training of service providers; and family versus professional responsibility for care coordination.
Currently, some individual pediatric practices not only coordinate among medical providers, but also try to plan and organize services provided by various therapists, equipment providers, community agencies, and public programs, including schools. A foundation grant to The Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo at the State University of New York will address the question of how to scale up this type of comprehensive service from individual practices to health care systems, while still meeting the needs and expectations of children and their families.
Researchers will design a family-centered system of care coordination for children with medical complexity, and develop concrete operational steps for providers and health care systems to implement care coordination for this population of children with special needs. The work will include a business model and operational plan for the implementation of a care coordination program.
A second foundation grant focuses on ways to improve inter-agency collaboration to reduce the frustration of families who must coordinate the extensive array of services required by children with special health care needs. At present there are few examples of effective administrative structures and processes to facilitate information-sharing or collaboration among health, education, and other agencies that serve children and families.
Health Management Associates will identify states that have made progress toward inter-agency collaboration, and examine their strategies, barriers, and accomplishments. Researchers will offer lessons and potential steps to promote collaboration across departments and systems serving children and youth with special health care needs in California and elsewhere. They will provide recommendations and offer advocates a policy agenda to promote.