Q&A: CDPHP Embedded Case Managers Usher In New Era of Healthcare

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011
This post was written by Jessica Fornarotto

From the perspective of the health plan-provider relationship, CDPHP embedded case managers are an example of both parties working together in partnership, explains Lisa Sasko, MA, MBA, director of clinical transformation at CDPHP. Prior to their presentation on The Role of Embedded Case Managers in Clinical Transformation, Sasko, along with Charlene Schlude, director of case management, describe the functions of an embedded case manager, target populations and issues to address prior to embedding a case manager in a practice.

HIN: A news release on the CDPHP physician practice transformation program mentioned that the embedded case managers help practice staff better facilitate medical, behavioral and pharmaceutical services for patients. Can you provide, in more detail, their functions in these areas?

(Charlene Schlude): We have embedded RN case managers that work in the practices and their primary function and role is to assist the physicians and staff in the practice to identify, engage and outreach patients in their practice, whom they believe have many chronic and complex medical issues that may require special coordination of care. The addition of social work, perhaps because there may be some social concerns and financial constraints around having a chronic illness or maybe the loss of a job, help people to engage in a self-management plan. After the case management experience is over, the patients should be able to continue on with the education, adherence techniques, the understanding of their diagnosis and having a list of questions to bring with them to speak to their doctor about regarding their condition. The patient should be empowered and ready to help self-manage their chronic condition on an ongoing basis.

HIN: You mentioned complex patients as targets for the case management program. Are there other target populations, such as by disease state?

(Charlene Schlude): Yes, we target any patient with a complex illness. That could be someone in our commercial product or our self-insured product line; people who may have had a trauma or a catastrophic illness or event. We work closely with our transplant patients because they have significant social and emotional needs as well as medical and pharmaceutical needs. We work with anyone who has a great deal of barriers to self-managing their care, which could be that they have a situation in their home where they’re the caregiver for another patient or another member of their family.

HIN: What are the operational and cultural issues to address before embedding case managers in the practice?

(Charlene Schlude): We found that when we were going into the medical home as embedded case managers, we were going to have to be very flexible and open to the different nuances of each practice. We know that the underlying concepts around medical homes are the transition of the practice so that everyone has an integral part on the team. We knew that we had to be very open to the workflows in the practice. Our case managers are sensitive to that, but they do need to become an integral part of that practice as a member of the team. While they’re employed by the health plan, the message to the practice and to the members is that they are a part of that team and are involved with all of the decisions; they sit in on conferences and talk with the physicians directly. But again, we are being sensitive to the workflows because we did not want to go in and prescribe how things were going to be in one medical home to the other, and say that it had to be consistent.

(Lisa Sasko): From an operational standpoint — from a plan and provider relationship standpoint — some of the issues that were important for us to address, focused on recognizing and working with our practices to recognize that this is a new era of healthcare. We need to work together in partnership. CDPHP is supporting these practices to become these enhanced primary care practices through practice transformation, through the use of consultants, etc. In addition, CDPHP is putting these practices on a new payment model that gets them away from fee-for-service onto a risk-adjusted base capitation, which offers a lucrative, to some degree, bonus potential based on improving quality of care for the members and improving the efficiency of the resources utilized.

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