by Traci Chapman
As healthcare becomes more complex and treatment more expensive, patients of all ages and conditions have found themselves in a no man’s land where they find more questions than answers.
That’s where care management can lift the mists obscuring the answers those patients – and their families – are searching for, helping them improve their health, while avoiding at least some of the stressors that come with high medical bills and what can become insurmountable treatment costs.
What is care management?
Care managers are tasked with helping patients, caregivers and families find the most effective way to manage health conditions, while also focusing on potential medical cost savings. Several studies found in U.S. the National Library of Medicine, overseen by the National Institutes of Health, concluded care management can improve patients’ quality of care in the long-term, as well as positively impact the cost of that care.
University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center Fran and Earl Ziegler College of Nursing’s Care Management program is working to train future care managers who can provide those kinds of services to OU Health Center patients and beyond.
Seniors and Disabled Patients
OU’s Nursing Care Management program provides case management services to patients of all ages, conditions and income levels. For Karissa Maddox, RN, BSN, CMC, many of the people she’s spent the last 15 years of her career treating and guiding through the healthcare maze are seniors, elderly and disabled individuals who are deemed ADvantage-eligible by Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
Oftentimes, multiple doctors treat patients, who also might be facing a myriad of conditions. That’s where a case manager comes in, Maddox said, serving as a central information hub, while helping to coordinate care.
“It just relieves the stress and helps the family try to live a normal life, especially if loved ones live at a distance,” she said. “We are often the ‘professional advocate’ helping manage care while communicating with family members and providers in addition to coordinating all health care needs.”
OU Nursing case managers first provide an in-home assessment, allowing them a comprehensive look not only into a patient’s medical issues, but also other challenges facing that patient – and their family. As hospital stays get shorter, Maddox said these assessments are crucial, providing the proper care plan and a bridge to medical providers, while also allowing patients to save money.
“You see the education you provide, the stability you provide – and being an advocate for them is huge,” she said. “Sometimes people don’t have anybody else to speak for them.”
OU Nursing Care Management operates in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Lawton and Elk City, providing services across Oklahoma to patients and their families, Maddox said.
Maternity Coaching and Education
OU Nursing recently unveiled new services geared specifically for pregnant women and new or expectant parents. The service incorporates care management to offer support to clients in their communications with health care providers — also helping them to determine the best educational programs for their individual needs.
“The focus is on the client and personalized according to what is most important to her,” said Margaret Back, RN RLC, ANLC and care management consultant. “The tailored plans and education materials prepare the client to anticipate changes and to minimize the stress of transitioning through the stages of pregnancy and the ‘4th Trimester’ of life with a new baby.”
Services also benefit anyone feeling overwhelmed or uncertain about maternity health-related issues, Back said. New or single parents working through the transition back to work and adoptive parents or grandparents caring for their grandchildren can also find support, guidance and assistance, she said.
While services offered by Maternity Coaching and Education are not a substitute for a doctor, midwife, lactation consultant, childbirth educator, therapist or doula, those will be accessible to participants, Back said. It also offers Bump to Baby & Beyond Bundles, as well as a la carte options, all designed for flexibility and to address the changing needs of individuals and families, both during pregnancy and after childbirth.
“I am very excited about the opportunity to share the knowledge I have acquired in the last 12 years as a maternal newborn nurse,” said Ellie Standerfer, RNC-MNN, a program maternity coach. “I truly enjoy helping expectant mothers and new parents navigate through the exciting but sometimes overwhelming transition to parenthood and newborn care.”
Teri Round, MS, BSN, RN, NE-BC, executive director of clinical operations, cited OU Nursing’s multi-faceted approach to care management, which allows patients to move through every chapter of their life – and healthcare – with support and guidance.
“We have been in the business of providing care coordination for more than 20 years – our case managers are experienced professionals who are able to care for others across their lifespan, but who specialize in the care of seniors and helping them age in place,” Round said. “We have developed other business lines, which work to support care transitions using CTI, an evidence-based model that helps individuals control their chronic conditions at home versus hospitalization or ER; with OU Physicians in the Bedlam L Clinic, in a team effort to improve quality of life in those with little or no insurance and chronic conditions; private care management performing all of the above; and maternal-child health, our newest addition to our group of services.”
For more information or a professional consultation for private care management, contact Lisa Macias at 866-416-4980 or via email at [email protected].