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What does a Patient Care Coordinator do?

By Lori Smith
Updated Jan 23, 2024
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A patient care coordinator provides a valuable service to individuals who are hospitalized or receiving ongoing treatment for a variety of illnesses. This person often acts as a liaison between medical staff and patients to ensure that the best possible care is received. These professionals may act as advocates, assist families who are coping with a loved one's illness, and offer supportive and personal attention when other medical professionals are inaccessible. It is also common for a care coordinator to recommend special programs and support groups designed to help people deal with the psychological effects of various medical conditions or diseases that accompany a grim prognosis.

When patients are dealing with chronic medical conditions or acute diseases, it is often difficult to focus on certain such things as handling insurance issues, completing paperwork, finding specialists, locating physical therapy centers, or navigating the healthcare system in general. In fact, many of these administrative tasks can be downright complicated, even for people who are not suffering from an ailment. A patient care coordinator can streamline many processes and handle some of these time-consuming undertakings. Individuals are then able to focus on healing, rather than paperwork.

In addition to the management of medical needs and administrative responsibilities, a patient care coordinator will generally spend plenty time with hospitalized individuals and their family members. The role of this individual may vary, depending on the needs of each person he or she helps. Some people simply need a shoulder to cry on or a friendly voice to help them through a trying and difficult time. Unfortunately, doctors and nurses rarely have time to devote this type of personal attention to their patients. For this reason, a patient care coordinator can also help further explain a diagnosis, a doctor's treatment plan or answer other basic questions.

A patient care coordinator may also arrange home healthcare services for a patient when he or she is discharged from the hospital. Additionally, any special equipment that is needed, such as medical supplies or walking aides, as well as transportation services can also be coordinated. Some people are unable to afford the treatment or equipment that a doctor deems necessary, however. When a person has inadequate health insurance or is unable to afford costly deductibles and other out-of-pocket medical expenses, the coordinator may offer assistance in obtaining financial aid to cover some of these excess costs and make ongoing treatment and rehabilitation possible.

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Discussion Comments
By pastanaga — On Jul 14, 2013

@Mor - The problem with that is that people will ignore that kind of summons. If an impersonal letter reminds them that they need to have a checkup it's easy to put it away in a drawer and forget about it.

If a patient care assistant actually calls you up and tells you why you should come on in to be tested, I think you are much more likely to do it.

By Mor — On Jul 13, 2013

@MrsPramm - I think it will be interesting to see what happens in this field in the future. I think there should be more patient care coordinator jobs as well, but in reality that just makes another bill for the patient to pay and they aren't going to want to do that for something they could conceivably do themselves.

I think what will happen is that there will be better and better computer assistance to do these kinds of followups. You can already program your computer so that it will send out reminders to patients when they need to come in for a checkup. I don't see why you couldn't make specialized applications for people that would take on other aspects of this work.

By MrsPramm — On Jul 12, 2013

I actually wish there were more of these people around, since this is exactly the gap that needs to be filled in modern medicine. You can hardly blame doctors for not keeping up with their patients when they already have so much on their plate and nurses rarely even get the chance to develop a long term relationship with particular patients.

So, all a doctor can do is recommend that a patient follow a particular course, but even the best doctors might not have the time or even the skills to follow that up (for example, by guiding a patient into finding the right therapist).

A patient care coordinator would be able to develop personal relationships with the patients and take care of all the specialized administration tasks that often fall on the patient or on their family and friends (and often don't happen, as a result.).

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