Dealing with chronic illness can be challenging. Along with the potential physical discomfort, understanding your illness, finding the right care, and navigating insurance and other financial issues can be overwhelming. Case managers can help.
Case managers work with you every step of the way to provide the support and resources you need to better manage your chronic condition. According to Kelly Roberts, RN, lead primary care case manager with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Centers, case managers design personal care programs to promote your well-being and improve your quality of life.
Helping you take an active role in your health care
With the support of a case manager, you can work collaboratively with your family and your doctor on a shared action plan. A case manager will help you to establish personal health goals with a focus on what is important to you and what will lead to positive outcomes.
"A case manager can help a patient and their family better manage a chronic condition by empowering them as a part of their health care team," Roberts says. "We encourage our patients to take an active role in their health care."
According to the American Case Management Association (ACMA), case managers provide a wide scope of services, including:
- Educating patients and families
- Advocating on behalf of patients to ensure needs are met
- Coordinating multiple aspects of care
- Assessing psychosocial needs of patients and families
- Helping identify and access financial resources
- Ensuring patient transitions to the appropriate level of care
- Monitoring patient care and outcomes, and intervening as needed
Working together toward better health outcomes
Case managers connect with patients to establish rapport, develop a trusting relationship and build healthy habits together. Patients working with case managers make great progress toward better health and improved outcome measures. Studies have found that patients' hospital stays are reduced and their satisfaction with the care they receive increases.
"At Sharp Rees-Stealy, data suggest that patients engaged with a case manager have lower hospital readmission rates for up to 90 days compared to other patients discharged from our hospitals," Roberts says. "Patients score better on measures of their self-reported health status after working with a case manager and also improved measures of activation — an indication of more focus and willingness to participate more fully in their care."
Roberts also reports that patients frequently take the time to express their gratitude to the Sharp Rees-Stealy case management team for the positive results of working with a case manager. Satisfaction rates are over 98 percent when patients are surveyed about their experience.
"Our case managers are caring, compassionate, and ensure our patients receive the highest quality of care," she says. "Our team goes above and beyond each day to provide our patients and families with support, encouragement and kindness."