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By Dr. Colleen Morley, DNP, RN, CCM, CMAC, CMCN, ACM-RN, FCM

During my inaugural remarks at the CMSA National Conference, I referred to an oft-quoted line from Nancy Skinner RN, CCM, RN-CMGT, ACM-RN, CMCN, FCM, 2-time CMSA National President. Nancy says that “case management is the best-kept secret in all of healthcare.”  I admit that I have shamelessly borrowed this as part of my war cry as well.

It is indeed time for the specialty of Case Management to take its place at the table, in the spotlight. It is specifically mentioned in the Case Management Model Act (2017) talking points document “Case Management remains one of the best-kept secrets in health care”. (Case Management Society of America, 2017)

Curious, I “googled” that phrase and found that the first time it was published was in 1999. Let that sink in…1999!

An article from Relias Heath quoted Kathleen Moreo as then-CMSA President-Elect, stating that "we as case managers do an excellent job of advocating for our patients but have not done a good job advocating on behalf of ourselves.” She goes on to explain that “our professional future may be in jeopardy because we haven’t explained to consumers who we are and how we can help them receive appropriate health care. If we don’t step up to the plate and define ourselves, others will step in and do it for us." (Relias Media, 1999). Indeed, my colleague at ANA Illinois, Sue Clark, often says “if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”

This article goes on to suggest that "case managers must agree on one very brief, very caring sentence that explains what they do. Then they need to follow that message with personal case management success stories that support that definition." (Relias Media, 1999). Nancy Skinner is quoted in the same article as the current CMSA President stating "I want to see the day when patients diagnosed with a serious medical condition demand a case manager to help guide them through the health care system." (Relias Media, 1999).

One of the most exciting parts of the recent CMSA National Conference in Orlando was the release of the fifth update to the Standard of Practice for Case Management (SOP). This update gave us that “one very brief, very caring sentence” that explains what we do as professional case managers to our consumers:

“Case managers are healthcare professionals who serve as patient advocates to support, guide and coordinate care for patients, families and caregivers as they navigate their health and wellness journeys.” (Case Management Society of America, 2022).

I was thrilled to see the Standards of Practice had been rearranged to follow the case management process and the format made more “reader-friendly.”  In addition to the “consumer-focused definition” above, language addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has been incorporated throughout the SOP. And a new standard was added: Health Information Technology, speaking to not only adherence to HIPAA, but using HIT to enhance communication and outcomes, become “tech-friendly” for the benefit of our patients and teach them how to use technology for their health promotion, such as apps, portals, and telehealth.

For a more in-depth discussion of the current edition of the SOP, Session 1005 from the 2022 CMSA National Conference is available in the digital conference sessions (open through August 31, 2022) at https://cmsa.societyconference.com/

Case Management is one of the most effective solutions in health care and must become an integral part of the medical management system. Moreover, our consumers, end users (patients, families, caregivers), need to what we do, and how we can help them. Review your Standards of Practice and as the 1999 article suggested take this new consumer-facing definition and tell your success stories!

References:

Case Management Society of America. (2017). Case Management Model Act Talking Points.

Case Management Society of America. (2022). Standard of Practice for Case Management.

Relias Media (1999). It’s time the public understood case management, experts say. February 1, 1999. https://www.reliasmedia.com/articles/60548-it-8217-s-time-the-public-understood-case-management-experts-say

 

Bio: Dr. Colleen Morley DNP RN CCM CMAC CMCN ACM-RN FCM is the current President of the Case Management Society of America National Board of Directors and Principal of Altra Healthcare Consulting in Chicago, IL.  She has held positions in acute care as Director of Case Management at several acute care facilities and managed care entities in Illinois for over 14 years; piloting quality improvement initiatives focused on readmission reduction, care coordination through better communication and population health management.

Her current passion is in the area of improving health literacy. She is the recipient of the CMSA Foundation Practice Improvement Award (2020) and ANA Illinois Practice Improvement Award (2020) for her work in this area. Dr. Morley also received the AAMCN Managed Care Nurse Leader of the Year in 2010 and the CMSA Fellow of Case Management designation in 2022. She has recently authored her 1st book, “A Practical Guide to Acute Care Case Management”, published by Blue Bayou Press.

Dr. Morley has over 20 years of nursing experience. Her clinical specialties include Med/Surg, Oncology and Pediatric Nursing.  She received her ADN at South Suburban College in South Holland, IL; BSN at Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, FL, MSN from Norwich University in Northfield, VT and her DNP at Chamberlain College of Nursing.