2021 was another roller coaster year for healthcare. The strain and fatigue on the industry and its people continued as we all battled new challenges stemming from the emergence of more variants of COVID-19. Care coordination efforts became paramount for practices looking to keep up with patient influxes, many who saw record numbers of patients in 2021.

Despite all the challenges, healthcare keeps marching forward into 2022 with a renewed focus on producing a better experience and healthier outcomes for patients. Recently, LeadingReach CEO, Curtis Gattis, sat down to pen some thoughts on where healthcare was headed on care coordination initiatives as we enter the new year.

Prediction 1: Referral Pre-Authorizations

Referral pre-authorizations continue to be a thorn in the side of primary care and specialist offices, but as more and more providers become part of ACOs and narrow networks, that cumbersome step can be eliminated in 2022.

Care coordination powered by technology provides an opportunity for seamless, real-time pre-authorization, where phone calls and paper faxes aren’t needed to make sure payers and providers are on the same page. It’s a win-win for patients and providers to accelerate the process of closing the referral and pre-authorization loop, while also strengthening healthcare ecosystems.

Prediction 2: Network Utilization

As we continue to see new variants, subsequent delayed care and other pandemic curve balls, efficiency and optimization are the name of the game when it comes to meeting patient needs.

In 2022, we’ll see more healthcare leaders focus on identifying and tracking critical conversion metrics, like their referral-to-appointment ratio and referral response rate. This will help ensure patients are getting the care they need rather than falling through the cracks, which happens 50 percent of the time with outdated communication processes that involve faxing. As a result, we’ll also see more provider networks shepherding their patients towards more strategic partners and clinics and away from less responsive, less timely care.

The traditional need for healthcare has not changed, even in the face of a global pandemic, but we will see an increased push to engage patients with their care, particularly when it comes medical conditions that require a team approach to healthcare.

Prediction 3: Collaborative Care Management

Delays in care are becoming increasingly worrisome to providers and patients alike. As more and more disparate systems become connected and data can flow more freely between providers, patients and third-parties, we’ll see a huge increase in the speed and quality of communication and care coordination in 2022.

Creating care plans and teams within technology that gives all parties in the process clear visibility into which step of the care journey a patient is currently in — while simultaneously alerting other providers when it’s their time to take action — will drastically reduce negative patient outcomes like hospital readmissions. Having everyone on the same page and being held accountable to their parts of the treatment ensures there are no bottlenecks in the journey, guaranteeing patients get the right care, at the right place, and at the right time.