Sunday, June 19, 2011

Case Management: Your Ship Is Coming In

Worth every penny
The most recent leg of the Disease Management Care Blog's ongoing world tour has just successfully concluded. The latest trip was a presentation at the San Antonio annual meeting of the Case Management Society of America (CMSA).  By the way, not only is it proud member of the AMA and the ACP, but the DMCB is also proud dues-paying CMSA member.

The topic?  What else...  case management and it's impact on Accountable Care Organizations.  While the DMCB's action-oriented learning goals enumerated the many synergies between case management and population-based health care in ACO settings, the underlying message was that case managers are uniquely poised to rescue ACOs. 

In other words, my non-physician care-coordinating professional colleagues, your ship has come in.

This is what the DMCB said:

In order to manage the financial risks of being "accountable" to a population, provider organizations that want to be ACOs will have to do five things:

1) assess their assigned members' individual risk (using health risk assessments (HRAs) and predictive modeling,

2) that then segment or stratify the population into three "buckets":  high, medium and low.  Then....

3) deploy a full spectrum of communication interventions, including telephone, mail, email and social media, the purpose being to.....

4) recruit patients into the appropriate care pathways that are tailored to the level of risk.  Patients at highest risk need case management.  Patients at lower levels of risk may require less intense coaching, such as preventive counseling, telephonic reminders and, if available, wellness interventions.  Patients with a high level of readiness to change are most likely to benefit.  The purpose of all this is to...

5) apply evidence-based medicine and guidelines using shared decision making so that patients can reconcile the the care they need with what they want and, simultaneously, reduce claims expense (an example is here).

And who is responsible for all this you ask? 

Many naive policymakers, out-of-touch regulators, inflexible legal experts and physician-leader apparatchiks will tell you the primary doctors will do it.  According to this policy-insider elite, giving PCPs electronic records, 10% pay increases and medical home status will unleash the physicians' hidden lust for becoming accountable.  They'll want to counsel patients in the course of their office visits.

Poppycock, says the DMCB.  Docs don't mind being ultimately responsible, but they have little interest in reviewing, recruiting or educating lists of patients.  They're more than happy to "outsource" that job to case managers.  The DMCB thinks of these professionals as the ones who review the lists, oversee recruitment rates, provide counseling services and assure that maximum numbers of patients become engaged in their self care.  Plenty of those patients will need an appointment to see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment, and - thanks to a working relationship with their docs - the case managers can make that happen.

In other words, the case managers will be the linchpin to assuming ACO success.  Where the rubber hits the road.  Where the light shines.  Where the action is.  Where the return on investment will be achieved.


GlassHospital said...

I couldn't agree more with your points here. I am a primary doc, and none of those carrots make me want to spend the time necessary to check off those boxes you mention.

I love the whole idea of case managers. If only my current employer was savvy enough to invest in them.

One thing: other than meeting them along the long road, where the rubber meets it, etc. it might be nice to include multi-disciplinary outreach and education (and brainstorming!) in the medical education paradigm--from med school right on up.

Are there any med schools that actually include collaboration in their "art of physicianship" type courses?

Jaan Sidorov said...

Good question. I doubt the schools are intellectually or culturally predisposed for that type of innovation. However, I hear the primary care post-grad training programs are starting to bake this into the curriculum.