April 21, 2014
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ACP launches toolkit to improve communication among primary care, specialty teams

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The American College of Physicians has announced the launch of a new initiative aimed at improving communication between primary care and subspecialty physicians and ultimately, improving patient outcomes.

"The High Value Care Coordination Toolkit facilitates clear communication between primary care and subspecialist practices so that doctors can provide seamless, coordinated and quality care to their patients." ACP president, Molly Cooke, MD, MACP, said in a press release.

The toolkit is the product of a collaboration between ACP’s Council of Subspecialty Societies and patient advocacy groups and includes checklists, pertinent data sets and templates to enhance patient-centered communication.

Pertinent data sets are among the materials designed to be used in making referrals to specialists. These contain information “not typically included in a generic referral request,” such as tests to avoid before a referral appointment and guidelines for additional patient information pertinent to the specialist.

As an example, a physician with a patient complaining of heartburn symptoms can refer to a two-page document about GERD to list pertinent symptoms and additional information to include if the patient has had other tests.

Similarly, a physician faced with a patient presenting cognitive or memory problems can use a one-page form with a list of required blood tests, other tests to avoid, and a few notable details to provide to a neurologist based on guidelines from the American Academy of Neurology.

The data sets list information in an easy-to-read checklist formation and are available for over 35 common conditions. By providing necessary information and eliminating other potential causes using a simple format, the ACP hopes the referring doctor will send the patient to a specialist more prepared.

Other materials include a checklist of information to include in a subspecialist’s response to a request for a referral and templates for model care coordination agreement between primary care and subspecialists and primary care and hospital care teams.