Measuring coordination of epilepsy care: A mixed methods evaluation of social network analysis versus relational coordination

Hamada H. Altalib, Holly J. Lanham, Katharine K. McMillan, Mariyam Habeeb, Brenda Fenton, Kei Hoi Cheung, Mary Jo Pugh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objectives: Coordination of multidisciplinary care is critical to address the complex needs of people with neurological disorders; however, quality improvement and research tools to measure coordination of neurological care are not well-developed. This study explored and compared the value of social network analysis (SNA) and relational coordination (RC) in measuring coordination of care in a neurology setting. The Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare System (VA) established an Epilepsy Centers of Excellence (ECOE) hub and spoke model of care, which provides a setting to measure coordination of care across networks of providers. Methods: In a parallel mixed methods approach, we compared coordination of care of VA providers who formally engage the ECOE system to VA providers outside the ECOE system using SNA and RC. Coordination of care scores were compiled from provider teams across 66 VA facilities, and key informant interviews of 80 epilepsy care team members were conducted concurrently to describe the quality of epilepsy care coordinating in the VA healthcare system. Results: On average, members of healthcare teams affiliated with the ECOE program rated quality of communication and respect higher than non-ECOE physicians. Connectivity between neurologist and primary care providers as well as between neurologists and mental health providers were higher within ECOE hub facilities compared to spoke referring facilities. Key informant interviews reported the important role of formal and informal programming, social support and social capital, and social influence on epilepsy care networks. Conclusion: For quality improvement and research purposes, SNA and RC can be used to measure coordination of neurological care; RC provides a detailed assessment of the quality of communication within and across healthcare teams but is difficult to administer and analyze; SNA provides large scale coordination of care maps and metrics to compare across large healthcare systems. The two measures provide complimentary coordination of care data at a local as well as population level. Interviews describe the mechanisms of developing and sustaining health professional networks that are not captured in either SNA or RC measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-205
Number of pages9
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
StatePublished - Aug 2019


  • Care coordination
  • Epilepsy
  • Health service research
  • Relational coordination
  • Social network analysis
  • Veterans administration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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