Q&A: Technology Can Help Case Managers with Patients’ Care, Advocacy

Friday, April 12th, 2013
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

“Technology just can’t become the driver of us,” says Teresa Treiger. “It’s a tool…but if you just leave your tools in the toolbox, they’re useless.”

Prior to her presentation during a February webinar on The Role of Case Managers in Emerging Care Delivery Models, we talked with Treiger, RN-BC, MA, CHCQM-CM/TOC, CCM, president, Ascent Care Management, and self-admitted “technology geek,” about emerging trends in case management, including the use of technology in case management patient care plans.

HIN: How can case managers maximize the use of technology to manage patient care plans?

(Teresa Treiger): Case managers have to remember that technology is a tool. It’s something that will help them be more efficient, but it is not the process of case management. The case managers who maximize their use of technology, whether in their assessment or the care plans that might come out of it, rather than completely rely on it to tell them what to do at 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., will thrive and continue to improve in their professional practice.

There are tools out there that people are using. I have my iPhone, and all kinds of information tucked in it. I use it for my exercise, my workouts, for logging foods, all that. None of that information is easily transferable into most health plans or hospital information systems.

There’s a way that case managers can use that information to demonstrate that their clients are taking their medications as prescribed, or are eating appropriately, or are exercising. It may not be something that crops up on their screen automatically and I certainly don’t want to see people having to transcribe from one thing to another, because that would be completely inefficient.

But using the information technology that our clients are using, as opposed to just what is available at our employment settings, is a great way of using technology to not only manage patients’ care, but also advocate for them, speak up for them. By looking at their tools, we can tell others, “No, that’s not true. They’re doing a lot. It may not be something that shows up on our information’s radar, but they are doing a lot.” If we want our patients to step up and become better self-managers, we need to look at what they’re using and figure out a way to incorporate that into working with them more effectively.

There is also Skype, instant messaging, a lot of things that are driven by privacy, and organizational policies and procedures may not allow their use unless they’re within the information system.

Technology just can’t become the driver of us. It is a tool and if you have tools that you just leave in a toolbox they’re useless.

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