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Defining Care Coordination

Understanding the Concept of Care Coordination

According to the Rural Health Information Hub, there are many definitions and concepts associated with care coordination. A technical review on care coordination conducted by the Stanford University-University of California, San Francisco Evidence-based Practice Center identified more than 40 distinct definitions of care coordination. The researchers found that the care coordination definitions shared five common elements:

  • Numerous participants are involved

  • Participants are dependent upon each other's knowledge, skills, and services

  • Participants require knowledge about their roles and available resources

  • Participants exchange information among themselves

  • The ultimate goal of care coordination is to facilitate the appropriate delivery of healthcare services


Based on their analysis, the researchers proposed a broad working definition of care coordination:

The Institute of Medicine's Priority Areas for National Action: Transforming Health Care Quality (2003) defines care coordination as:

Resources to Learn More


Care Coordination and Transition Management Definitions
Provides several definitions for care coordination and transitional care.

Organization(s): American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing
Date: 7/2015


The Promise of Care Coordination: Transforming Health Care Delivery
This resources provides a definition of care coordination, description of strategies to achieve care coordination, and key factors for success.
Organization(s): Families USA 

Date: 4/2013

The extent to which patient care services are coordinated across people, functions, activities, and sites over time so as to maximize the value of services delivered to patients.”

Many definitions of care coordination also state a purpose for care coordination activities such as improved quality of care and improved health outcomes.

The deliberate organization of patient care activities between two or more participants (including the patient) involved in a patient’s care to facilitate the appropriate delivery of healthcare services. Organizing care involves the marshaling of personnel and other resources needed to carry out all required patient care activities and is often managed by the exchange of information among participants responsible for different aspects of care.

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