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By Mary Beth Newman, MSN, RN, CMGT-BC, CCM

There are as many different journeys to health as there are people. Why? Because the journey to health is an individualized experience for every person. It’s a course driven by a person’s unique needs, values, and expectations – and complicated by a myriad of potential psychosocial and behavioral challenges. As a result, that journey may be fairly straightforward or hopelessly convoluted or anywhere of a million points in-between!

Mary Beth Newman

Professional case managers are in the perfect position to guide these journeys using their skills, knowledge, and experience to help ensure collaborative, coordinated, individualized and quality-driven outcomes of care. (And isn’t that what case management is all about?) In other words, case managers help each person they work with envision their goal destination, construct a roadmap to get there and get to each waypoint along the way to arrive at their journey’s destination. 

Navigating the Journey to Health” is the theme of this year’s weeklong celebration of National Case Management Week. It’s a great time to step back and reflect on ways we can be successful in guiding people in their very personal journeys to health. To me, there are seven essential activities that will help to strengthen our abilities to be effective in this regard. I like to call these the “Seven C’s of Brilliant Case Management”. (You’ll probably notice there are actually twelve “C” words in my list, but to me “Seven C’s” sounds way better than the “Dirty Dozen”!) 

The Seven C’s of Brilliant Case Management

 Collaboration

Collaboration lies at the heart of successful case management practice. Without collaboration, there is little hope for positive change or successful outcomes! True collaboration requires two essential elements:

  • A person-centered partnership approach that focuses on empowerment, education and anticipatory guidance
  • Listening and responding to a person’s needs, requests, and preferences (the very definition of person-centered care!)

Communication and Conversations

Great case management is all about building a trusting and therapeutic relationship.  Effective communication and meaningful conversations go a long way to doing this!  Health journeys can be best supported when we:

  • Bring active listening skills into everyday conversations
  • Practice mindfulness and being fully present in the moment
  • Share information with the collaborative care team

Coordination and Connecting

Care coordination is an essential yet sometimes missing piece of a person’s individualized health journey. Effective care coordination happens when case managers:

  • Maintain tight connections with the collaborative care team across the care continuum
  • Recognize when silos of care exist and work to break down these barriers
  • Support a person’s self-care skills and decision-making regarding their care

Commitment

A commitment to best practice is essential to delivering effective case management and promoting optimal outcomes of care. We can be more successful in this regard if we’re open to new ways of thinking and doing regarding how health journeys can be best supported. Some ways we can enable this are to:

  • Step back to see things from a new perspective
  • Recognize and break old or outdated thought patterns
  • Challenge assumptions to open new possibilities
  • Hone critical thinking skills to promote an open mindset

Contribute and Cultivate

We all have the professional accountability for our contributions to delivering high-quality care and cultivating our professional growth. There are so many ways we can accomplish this, but here are just a few:

  • Embrace a life-long learning perspective and take full advantage of continuing education offerings
  • Be a mentor and share your knowledge, experience, expertise
  • Seek opportunities to develop your leadership skills

Confidence and Conviction

Case managers need to believe that determination and passion go a long way in helping guide someone along their health journey. Boosting confidence and conviction in this way involves our capacity to:

  • Believe that our professional Standards of Practice are at the heart of everything we do and ensure they’re applied in everyday practice
  • Surround ourselves with inspirational people who can provide insight, validation, and support
  • Trust yourself and be true to your values and spirit
  • Build up resilience to stress by taking care of physical and emotional health

Compassion and Caring

Compassion and caring are two of the most fundamental values guiding case management practice. We take that for granted, but it's certainly worth a shout-out when we consider the impact on patient journeys! Case managers know that demonstrating compassion, kindness, and empathy are truly at the heart of person-centered care. It’s helpful to remember that:

  • Compassionate care is considered evidence-based care and produces better outcomes
  • Compassionate care enables us to be more effective in our role as advocates
  • Compassionate care is a powerful way to positively influence a person’s health journey

Celebrating Our Strengths

As we celebrate National Case Management Week, let’s take a moment to recognize and really appreciate the contributions case managers make in navigating the journey to health. I hope this list of the “Seven C’s of Brilliant Case Management” has highlighted that as case managers, we have a number of remarkable assets that enable us to navigate the many health journeys we embark on with our patients. We can readily tap into these strengths to help us be successful as journey guides. Be sure to make these a part of your daily practice!

Make sure you are applying the Standards of Practice every day. Sign up to take the CMSA SOP course here!

(Link: https://cmsa.org/sopcmcourse/)

Mary Beth Newman, MSN, RN, BC-CMGT, CCM, is a past president of CMSA.  She has 35 years of professional experience with a focus on building best practice, quality-driven care management programs. Mary Beth is currently a Senior Assistant Vice President at EXL Health where she supports clinical product development.