Patients with the most complex health profiles consume a disproportionate percentage of health care expenditures, yet often receive fragmented, suboptimal care. Since 2003, Wisconsin-based Gundersen Health has improved the quality of life and reduced the cost burden of patients with complex health profiles with an integrated care coordination program. Those results are consistent with data from the most successful care coordination demonstration projects funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Specifically, Gundersen's program has been associated with reduced hospital stays, lower costs for inpatients, less use of inpatient services, and increased patient satisfaction. Gundersen's success is rooted in its team-based approach to coordinated care. Teams, led by a subspecialty-trained nurse, have regular, face-to-face contact with patients and their physicians in both inpatient and outpatient settings; involve patients deeply in care-related decisions; access a system-wide electronic medical record database that tracks patients' care; and take a macrolevel view of care-related factors and costs. Gundersen's model offers specific take-home lessons for institutions interested in coordinated care as they design programs aimed at improving quality and lowering costs. This institutional case study provides a window into well-executed care coordination at a large health care system in an era when major changes in health care provision and reimbursement mechanisms are on the horizon.
Copyright © 2013 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.