Community partnerships, health navigators crucial to engage patients

National ACO Summit: ACO leaders discuss successful strategies to improve patient engagement

Leaders of two accountable care organizations (ACOs) shared the strategies they use to actively engage patients and improve healthcare delivery and outcomes while reducing costs during Wednesday's preconference session of the sixth annual National ACO Summit in the District of Columbia.

A three-pronged approach has worked well for Mercy Clinic ACO in Des Moines, Iowa, which in 2012 became a Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) participant, according to Kelly Taylor, R.N., who serves as the ACO's director of care management and quality. The ACO has provider participants throughout the state and focuses on primary care.  In order to boost patient engagement, Taylor said the ACOs focus on community resources, patient advisers and health coaches, another word for care managers or patient navigators.

Mercy's health coaches are RNs who work with patients to educate them about their conditions, coordinate care and also listen to their concerns. By establishing these personal connections, Taylor said, the health coaches learn what is important to patients so they can better offer support. In addition, health coaches connect patients to community resources that offer the most value, she said.

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