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Coordinated Care Roles in Addiction Recovery

There are many different care coordinator roles, and each works to make sure the entire addiction treatment process goes smoothly for all involved.

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Addiction treatment facilities are made up of many moving parts. From patient intake and assessment to day-to-day operations, keeping a facility running smoothly requires a variety of staff members who specialize in specific administrative roles. The best way to keep a facility efficient is to adopt a system of coordinated care.

Coordinated care helps reduce confusion in what can otherwise be a complicated health care system. Delegating each part of the addiction treatment process to certain coordinators makes it so no one department is stretching itself too thin. The result is a highly organized system that keeps vital information and records exactly where they need to be.

Through an organized system of coordinated care, physicians can easily access information, which allows patients to transition through treatment processes more easily. For a patient, this makes for more effective treatment, a smoother recovery journey and a lower chance of stressful interactions with staff.

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Examples of Care Coordinators

To ensure no one is carrying too much of the load, many care coordinators are located within each treatment facility. While the specific coordinators may vary from one facility to another, the following are examples of the most common types you’ll find in a treatment center.

Clinical Coordinator / Physician Coordinator

The clinical coordinator, or physician coordinator, oversees and manages the day-to-day operations of an addiction treatment facility. Individuals in this role ensure that the clinic and its physicians are following institutional policies and guidelines while working to enforce them. They may also assist with hiring processes, staff evaluations and facility budgeting tasks.

Physician Services Coordinator

The physician services coordinator helps manage the recruitment and onboarding processes of physicians and other medical staff members. After a physician is hired, the coordinator continues as a liaison between the physician and treatment facility. They also work to build relationships with local hospitals and clinics to support the referral of patients to specialized addiction treatment facilities.

Intake Coordinator

At a base level, the intake coordinator is in charge of handling patient appointments and incoming patients’ information. This may include securing payment options, checking insurance coverage, recording personal information, entering patient data and similar tasks. In some facilities, however, the intake coordinator is also tasked with interviewing incoming patients and determining what type of care they need. As part of this extended role, they may ask about drug history, health history and past treatment, which is recorded and given to the patient care coordinator to begin creating a care plan.

Patient Care Coordinator

The patient care coordinator is in charge of assessing the treatment needs of each patient. They may screen and interview the patient to find out about their drug and health history as well as any past treatment they’ve attended. The patient care coordinator then creates a treatment plan, including referrals for treatment modalities and a general timeline, and communicates the plan with medical staff and addiction specialists. 

Therapeutic Activities Coordinator

The therapeutic activities coordinator, also known as a recreational therapy coordinator, is in charge of creating, managing, and monitoring patients’ various activities during treatment. This may include therapeutic activities like art, music or exercise therapy, or providing social assistance to help patients re-enter their daily lives after treatment. The coordinator’s goal is to help patients remain independent throughout long-term recovery, whether physically, socially or emotionally.

What Are Some Important Skills and Qualities for Care Coordinators?

Aside from related experience and education, the most important skills and qualities needed for most care coordinator roles include:

  • The ability to work as part of a team
  • A high level of accuracy and attention to detail
  • Excellent verbal and written communication
  • Excellent leadership abilities
  • The ability to use and manage technology processes, such as data entry and financial programs
  • The ability to empathize with patients struggling with substance use disorders and other co-occurring conditions

How To Pursue a Career in Care Coordination

Most care coordinator roles require a bachelor’s degree and related health care or administrative experience. However, some facilities may hire candidates with an associate’s degree, certification or years of experience in lieu of education.

A good path to becoming a care coordinator is to attend a bachelor’s degree program related to medical, business or health care administration. Coursework may include classes in health care law, long-term care, medical terminology and health information systems. Toward the end of their program, students can apply for internship roles to begin building work experience. Many facilities require at least two years of health care-related experience, which can be attained through internships during college or entry-level positions after graduation.

It can also be beneficial to complete a certification program after receiving a bachelor’s degree. This helps show that a candidate has proficient knowledge of medical coaching, advocacy, laws, ethics, insurance, care goals and similar items. A well-rounded resume typically includes a bachelor’s degree, relevant work experience and certification.

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Coordinated Care at The Recovery Village

The Recovery Village network of addiction treatment facilities could not provide high quality, comprehensive care without our coordinators: they are vital to supporting our clients’ recovery journeys. To join our ever-expanding team of compassionate addiction experts, visit our job portal to find available positions at our treatment centers.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. “Care Coordination.” August 2018. Accessed September 30, 2020.

Betterteam. “Clinical Coordinator Job Description.” May 16, 2019. Accessed September 30, 2020.

Betterteam. “Physician Liaison Job Description.” February 24, 2020. Accessed September 30, 2020.

Scottsdale, Brenda. “Intake Coordinator Counseling Job Description.” Chron. Accessed September 30, 2020.

HealthCare Support. “Patient Care Coordinator.” Accessed September 30, 2020.

Truity. “Recreational Therapist.” Accessed September 30, 2020.

Study. “Become a Care Coordinator: Education and Career Roadmap.” July 10, 2020. Accessed September 30, 2020.

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