Care Coordination

Your Guide to Improving Care Coordination in Schools, Private Practices, Community Agencies, and at Home

What is Care Coordination and Why Does it Matter?

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Put simply, care coordination is the process that links those who receive care with those who provide it. It requires an organized effort to provide each stakeholder with appropriate services, resources, and information. When done correctly, it ensures that each student, client or patient receives the right care, at the right time, by the right person.

 

Care coordination can be complicated. Multiple systems of care, complex privacy requirements, and disconnected communication can result in high levels of inefficiencies and fragmented information.

 

Care coordination is not only complicated, it’s essential. Without it, those needing care, whether child or adult, are often left at a disadvantage; without vital assistance and resources.

 

As a caregiver or care coordinator in a school district, you may be one of the following:

  • Director of student services
  • Member of the nursing or special education department
  • Leader of student health
  • Driver of social emotional learning (SEL)
  • Designer of student support services as part of IEPs or 504 Plans

In the home or community, your role may be one of happenstance or come from years of study:

  • Parent of a child with special needs
  • Caregiver of an elderly family member
  • Clinician
  • Social worker
  • Case manager

Sound complicated? Though multiple parties have a stake in care coordination, the goals are often the same.

Reaching Your Care Coordination Goals

 No matter your role, the key to care coordination remains the same:

  • Ensure timely, efficient, and privacy-compliant sharing of information, such as documents, forms, or progress notes
  • Enable seamless care team collaboration among multiple service providers
  • Access historical care information to inform current care in a valuable, context-rich manner
  • Create efficient, productive, and intuitive workflows
  • Access reports to track, measure, and optimize care-support services

So, how do you get there?

  • Learn what you need to know about privacy-compliance requirements, including HIPAA and FERPA
  • Discover how to provide integrative support services to increase care-team collaboration
  • Pick up tips to provide more effective and complete care to elderly or children with special needs
  • Learn what to look for in a care coordination application

Lets get started!

Privacy-Compliance Requirements, Including HIPAA and FERPA

1) HIPAA and FERPA Compliance in Education for Schools and Parents 

Nationwide, districts are spending upwards of $90 million on conflict resolution, the majority of which relates to special education cases.

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With landmark Supreme Court cases like Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, the student privacy rights in special education are expanding—as is the need for school and district administrators to be certain they are complying with those rights, avoiding litigation, and providing privacy-compliant care.

 

What you need to know about HIPAA compliance

 

HIPAA was enacted in 1996 to “improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the health care system.” While this pertains more directly to health care privacy, it also bears implications and requirements for some school health records to safeguard student privacy.

  • Student Protection Those working with a student cannot disclose protected health information about that student to outside parties without a parent or guardian’s signed consent. There are strict requirements about the storage and transmission of this information, making traditional forms of school communication, such as a central fax machine or email, not HIPAA-compliant.
  • Types of Health Information Covered Any and all data that can be reasonably used to determine a student’s identity, along with all healthcare information, falls under the protection of HIPAA to maintain health care privacy.

 

What you need to know about FERPA compliance

 

FERPA is federal law that directly protects students’ educational records, so most school and district administrators are already very familiar with it. That said, many still struggle with ensuring total compliance with the law across the school district.

  • Difference Between Treatment and Education Records - Treatment records are those that a school maintains in connection to a student’s medical treatment or are billed through some types of insurance. These are excluded from education records, which are protected under FERPA. Outside of a parent or guardian, treatment records are not available to anyone other than those providing treatment to the student. Sharing them with a third party requires a parent’s or guardian’s signed consent.
  • Access to Education Records - Under FERPA, a school must provide an eligible student and their parent or guardian with information regarding the student’s education records within 45 days of a request.

FERPA compliance also gives parents the right to information. In the case of Amanda J v. Clark County School District, the courts ruled that failing to provide parents with critical information—like a student’s IEP goals—denies parents of their right to participate. Even without an explicit request for information, parents have robust rights when it comes to inclusion in students’ education records.

 

Want to read other key legal considerations? Download our HIPAA and FERPA infographic.

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FERPA & HIPAA Overlap

Many schools and districts are positioned such that they must consider the overlap between HIPAA and FERPA. In these cases—for instance, schools in which nurses or therapists dispense medical treatment—HIPAA and FERPA work in tandem to protect student information.

 

2) HIPAA Compliance in Private Practices and Community Agencies

 

As noted above, HIPAA was enacted in 1996 to “improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the health care system.” Large healthcare systems often have safeguards and controls to ensure they are following HIPAA rules. Unfortunately, small medical practices and community agencies cannot say the same. Research by NueMD found extensive failures in HIPAA compliance in small medical practices.

  • Client Protection Make sure your office knows HIPAA. As a practitioner who owns a practice, an office manager at a practice, or even a professional working at a practice, it is incumbent on all to know and follow the HIPAA regulations. Most professionals have had extensive training regarding HIPAA for continuing education credits, but other staff members also need to be trained and coached on HIPAA safety. If you own your own practice, you will need to have your staff adequately trained to avoid any trouble with HIPAA.
  • HIPAA Communication Ensure that anyone requesting information about a client has written permission, signed by the client or their legal conservator. What may seem like an inconvenience now could mean big trouble for your practice later. Remember: Texting or emailing client information to anyone is illegal.

How to Provide Integrative Support Services

1) Integrative Support Services in Education for Schools

The scope of education is expanding at the same time that it’s becoming more individualized. The line between the “real world” and school is more blurred than ever before. As more students require support services, and the types of support services grow both within and outside of school walls, it’s vital that administrators and other educators organize and normalize student-centered care.

 

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To adequately address the shifting landscape of supporting each student’s unique learning needs, educators need to gather enough information to gain a holistic view of the students, services, and student-centered care interactions. They need to understand the collective story of the student. Without building care teams that provide the full story of each student and each service school districts run the risk of attempting to provide services with major gaps in care and support.

  • Academic Performance and Capacity Most educators have a well-developed understanding of students’ academic abilities—how your district gathers data on student assessments and learning objectives can serve as a model for collecting and analyzing other crucial data points for each student’s well-being.
  • Physical State Physical disabilities can affect how long a student can sit or stand, their ability to hold a pencil or work on a device, their pain levels, ability to focus, and more. It is imperative to understand each student’s physical state to offer instruction that works.
  • Social–Emotional Learning The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers both report that many risky behaviors, such as drug use, violence, and dropping out, can be significantly mitigated with integrated efforts by educators, administrators, therapists, community agencies, and parents to increase students’ social–emotional development.
  • Connecting School to the Outside - In addition to more common support services like special education and speech therapy, a given student might need support at school for PTSD, divorce, homelessness, and more. Identifying such therapeutic needs and tracking the associated services for each individual student is paramount for their long-term support and academic success.

Want to read how to integrate a multi-tiered system of support across a school district? Download our infographic.

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2) Integrative Support Services in Private Practices and Community Agencies

 

The need for integrative support for clients with behavioral health issues or for those who are not able to fully access the necessary health services on their own is nothing new. Every day both adults and children receive assistance in accessing and coordinating services related to medical and behavioral health, parenting supports, and special education services. Often, those needing assistance go to nonprofit organizations and independent agencies for the help they can’t get from their traditional medical teams. This enhanced model of building care teams works very well when community service agencies (CSAs) work tirelessly to facilitate access to and ensure care coordination. Unfortunately, CSAs are not always available to provide an integrated care experience for children, adults, and their families. By connecting touchpoints and working with accountable care organizations, clients can find integrative support with or without a CSA.

  • Connecting Touchpoints The more touchpoints clients have with caregivers, the better the outcomes. Childcare programs, special education services, vocational supports, life skills agencies, shelters, and clinics can be important dots to connect in care-team collaboration so clients have a greater chance of achieving their care goals. Integrative support is essential for each stakeholder, particularly for clinical teams, who shouldn’t be kept in the dark about daily life and situational issues that can be informative in treatment planning.
  • Accountable Care Organizations - An accountable care AccountableCareorganization (ACO) is a voluntary group of doctors, hospitals, and other care organizations that build care teams to ensure care is delivered to a patient without unnecessary duplication of care and without error due to communication issues. ACOs are poised to help provide more systematic integrated care.

Ease Care Coordination for Caregivers of Children with Special Needs

Ensuring Children with Special Needs or Mental Health Concerns Receive 360-Degree Carekids

It’s every child’s right to receive an education. For children with special needs or those with mental health concerns, providing 360-degree care can be both frustrating and complicated for parents and educators. Exceptional collaboration and an increased understanding of roles will help ensure each child’s care and education is consistent inside and outside of school.

  • Create a Care Bridge for Health and Education One of the biggest challenges when caring for a child with multiple needs is they tend to be treated by more than one professional and have several parties who need consistent and clear communication. Keeping real-time, accurate information flowing between every stakeholder for each child will ensure the best care and education possible.
  • Understand Each Caretaker’s Role - As a parent, do you know who is in charge of overseeing mental and behavioral health or special education in your child’s school? As an educator, do you have a good understanding of the care your students are receiving outside the school? Having a better grasp on the multiple caretakers involved in each student’s health will improve the educational journey for everyone involved.

 

Family Caregivers of Elderly Care Recipients

 

As the aging baby boomer population starts to require more healthcare and support, the number of adults acting as 

family caregivers will increase. To provide complete care for an elderly family member as a caregiver, it’s important to understand family dynamics, create a support community, and be mindful of the emotional impact caregiving may have on the caregiver.

  • Understand Family Dynamics - Choosing one family member tomakeaplan provide the necessary organization and communication to ensure complete care for an elderly family member is often the most successful path to keeping positive family dynamics. Remember to respect each person in the family to help keep emotions at bay. Often times, the biggest cause of negative family dynamics is lack of communication. Find a process that allows each member of the family to feel respected and included in all necessary care communications.
  • Create a Support Community - Providing care to an elderly family member creates stress and pressure on even the best family caregiver. As a family caregiver, it’s essential to create a support community. Find intermittent care for your loved one when you need it by enlisting in-home care services. Recruit the help of family for some of the tasks you know are limiting your ability to care for yourself. Use a delivery service to save on time. Get a counselor for yourself to talk through the difficulties of caregiving.
  • Be Mindful of the Emotional Impact - Once you have figured out the practical logistics around caring for an elderly loved one, it’s time to focus on the emotional impact. Set realistic expectations around how caregiving may impact your relationships. Being a family caregiver for someone who is sick or disabled is very stressful, and often caregivers feel undervalued or underappreciated. It’s also important to be mindful about the care other family members are willing or able to provide.

What to Look for in a Care Coordination Application

It is often difficult and time consuming to share information with multiple service providers who care for children, adults, and elderly with special needs and chronic medical conditions. Both family caregivers and service providers have to manage stacks of paper, often resorting to phone-tag, photocopying, and emailing to share critical documents through insecure means. There is no 360-degree view of the whole child or adult across settings, and it’s complicated to access historical care information over time.

 

The thing is, care coordination does not have to be laborious, with constant worry about disconnected care teams. Finding a web application that provides support for care coordination can alleviate the stress, worry, and compliance issues. It can also ensure every patient receives the best care possible.

 

eCare Vault is a cloud-based application that will help you securely communicate key informationwith trusted team members across the school, home, clinic, and community. It is accessible from both your desktop and smart phone, ensures 360-degree care coordination by tracking behaviors, services, and important incidents in real time.  Best of all, enjoy peace-of-mind on a privacy-compliant platform (HIPAA and FERPA), while enhancing health and education outcomes.

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eCare Vault covers all the bases:

  • Provides a privacy- compliant information exchange between schools, families, and service providers. Use a HIPAA and FERPA compliant platform.
  • Includes behavioral health tracking supports at the client or student level for a complete, collective story in one recorded place.
  • Allows group collaboration for knowledge management to discuss successes and possible areas of need to increase successful care coordination.
  • Provides seamless integration with your existing technologies. Consider single sign-on with student information systems, IEP systems, Office 365, and any other technologies you may use.

eCare Vault helps lighten the load on caregivers:

  • Saves time and decreases burnout by allowing care-team members including teachers, school psychologists, counselors, behavioral health clinicians, district liaisons, and community providers, to focus on care and supports rather than being burdened with faxing and phone tag.
  • Provides a rapid response and recovery by quickly building teams around incidents and collating information from relevant caregivers and providers to track individuals affected for 360-degree care coordination.
  • Reduces risk of litigation by engaging parents/guardians, service providers, and community partners in proactive and transparent ways.

Parting Words

We’ve covered a lot of information around how to improve care coordination in your school, private practice, community agency, or home. We hope you found this content valuable to allow you to immediately increase the efficiency, security, and value of care for students, clients, and loved ones.

 

Good luck in your care coordination journey, and remember, we are always here to help!

 

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