As we begin to create a system that connects care for patients across settings, we have to ask ourselves - how do we choose our partners and what partners do we need to have in place?
Some questions are obvious. Do we have the same mission? Are our cultures a good fit? Have we clearly communicated our standards for quality?
But as we branch out to other connections, primary care, urgent care, pharmacies, post acute care...not all partners will look the same, nor can we expect them to react exactly as we do.
Someone described it to me recently in a clear way. On your anniversary you might chose a really nice restaurant, but going to work in the morning you might get coffee at a fast food restaurant. While you might not choose the fast food place for a special occasion, it fits a certain purpose and can't be expected to serve five course meals. It doesn't make it better or worse; it just serves a different purpose.
Health care is similar in the sense someone can access care in a variety of settings from an in-pharmacy clinic to urgent care to primary care. Each serves a different purpose and we have to be able to communicate and coordinate care across different settings. When a family is working and someone becomes ill, if they cannot take time from work, and primary care is not available after hours, they will seek care that is available nights and weekends.
So how are we responding to new partnerships and changing needs? First, we are working on expanding access. Our Cazenovia, Baldwinsville and Syracuse primary care offices are all expanding the number of providers and adding hours. Secondly we have to be able to connect communications across these other settings and we are working to do so with a new information technology system and care management.
For now we are learning that care doesn't stop when someone leaves our programs and transitions to another program. We must understand how these partnerships will fit together. It's complicated but part of the changing landscape in health care.