Table 3. Barriers and Facilitators to Care Coordinators' Work—Sample Quotations
ThemesBarriers/FacilitatorsSample Comments from Participants
Organization/system level
    Clinical information technologyBarrier: Lack of needed functionality“I get frustrated with our data collection program because it is quite limited as to the data I can get. Sometimes I have to run multiple reports then combine them to get the patients I need to track—such as multiple chronic condition patients.” (Coordinator 11)
Facilitator: Establishing alternate communication methods“I have built relationships with staff members in medical records at one of our most utilized hospitals, as well as staff members at other physician offices that we work with most often. Early on, I called them and explained who I was and what my role was. I told them what information I would be looking for and why. We have come up with a fax system. This saves me the time that it would take to be on the phone constantly.” (Coordinator 4)
    Community resourcesBarrier: Challenges identifying community resources“This has been one of those areas that we have put on the back burner over and over… . We have a spreadsheet in a shared file so we can all add new or revised info about what's available in the community. Keeping the data current is an ongoing challenge.” (Coordinator 7)
Facilitator: Strategies for identifying key resources“Our county has a ‘resource jam’ twice a year… . It is a daylong event, local agencies sign up for 15 minute blocks of time and get a table to put out information on… . Fabulous networking goes on… . [In addition,] our local Community Service Consortium puts together a guide to community services, which I hand out to patients.” (Coordinator 11)
Facilitator: On-site patient resources“We are extremely fortunate to have a Clinical Psychologist and a Social Worker on sight [sic]. This has been extremely helpful as they are often called to step into an appointment when the patient is being seen. We also now have a PharmD a couple days a week to review patient medications with them too.” (Coordinator 21)
Interpersonal level
    Interactions with clinicians and other health care facilitiesBarrier: Clinician resistance“At my present position each provider has so few of my patients and we don't work together on a daily basis. It's difficult I think for them to trust me… . Some of them look at it as another intruder telling them what to do with ‘their’ patients.” (Coordinator 17)
Facilitator: Strong relationships with clinicians“I have an excellent relationship with the physicians in my office. Not only have I worked with these physicians for nearly 3 years now, but I think the biggest factor is trust. They trust me and my work and my efforts with their patients. They know that I will follow through and keep them informed. Some physicians did give me resistance for quite some time. However, as they began to see the positive results of my efforts, their attitudes changed greatly.” (Coordinator 4)
Barrier: Resistance from other health care facilities“I have to admit that being able to communicate with inpatient, home health, hospice and therapists is the one area which still remains terribly undeveloped with our practice. Now that we have electronic medical records, I am able to see the inpatient notes better, but after 3 years of trying, the inpatient/ED [emergency department] social workers and care managers still remain ignorant of my existence. I have been successful on a few occasions when I haunted the hospital halls for the nurse/social worker managing my patient while admitted; but I have to really sell my role to get much interaction.” (Coordinator 15)
Facilitator: Strong relationships with staff at outside organizations“I think we are very fortunate to have great relationships with the hospital staff. We work closely with the care coordinators and the social workers/discharge planners as well… . We collaborate with the tertiary care site an hour away for a great deal of the specialty care we can't provide here. They are terrific at sharing! We are working on build [sic] stronger community alliances to support our patients with behavioral health needs as well. Our goal is to truly have a community based practice!” (Coordinator 7)
    Interactions with patientsBarrier: Patient resistance; lack of trust“One major challenge is getting patients to ‘engage’ in care management. Our patients have been assigned to nurse care management due to their pattern of health care utilization. Some of these patients are resistant to talking with a nurse care manager and decline to participate.” (Coordinator 18)
Facilitator: Developing trust“One patient after receiving my letter called the office and just wanted to tell the receptionist to give me the message that she did not want any part of my program. The receptionist convinced the patient that she should talk to me directly. After I allowed the patient to vent and ask her questions, by the end of the conversation she said ‘well, you don't sound too bad. I guess you can come to my house.’” (Coordinator 17)
Facilitator: Listening to patients“Another thing I have found is that many people just need someone to listen to them and validate their experience. When they've had the chance to talk about their emotions, fears, daily challenges, etc. and someone has truly listened—rather than referring them to yet another person—they often come up with solutions on their own (ie, family, friends, neighbors or community resources they know about, that might help).” (Coordinator 18)
Individual level
    Self-care practicesBarrier: Lack of attention to self-care“Just over a year ago I changed jobs because I no longer felt I was taking care of myself—physically, spiritually and emotionally—and it was negatively affecting how I interacted with those I worked with and the patients I encountered—it was scary but necessary and my new position helps me keep the balance.” (Coordinator 3)
Facilitator: Self-care practices“There are two things that have been very helpful for me in managing the stresses of so many patients, so little time. They are both things I do for me on the assumption that if I am healthy and serene, I can be more available for those who are not. I take a yoga class right here on the campus once a week. It has been a powerful avenue to increased strength, balance and inner calm. The second is a simple daily practice of staying positive. I start every morning with gratitude for three specific things from the previous day, one thing I am proud of and one thing I am looking forward to … it has really reframed the conversation of the day to one that is positive and upbeat.” (Coordinator 7)